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

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Monday, March 28, 2016


Turns out Bernie Sanders' bird was a finch.

"When finches come into our awareness it is a sure sign of prosperous and joyous times ahead. Finches are an omen of high energy and bright days on the horizon. Natives held the finch as a symbol of upcoming celebration. Finches are song birds, and their music heralds the bounty of spring. When the finch sings to our awareness it is a beckoning to unleash our own song. If we’ve been concealing our brilliance from the world – the finch is a sign to start making our value more audible and available to others. Its bird meaning deals with sociability too, and if the finch comes into your life it may be a signal to get more involved with social activities."

Even better than the sparrow.

Jack Grapes in NY

In 2010 I took a writing class with the amazing Jack Grapes.  It was terrifying.  I learned - thankfully  after the experience - that Jack is known as "The Writing Teacher to the Stars."  There were some in the class, but they were nice folk, not intimidating at all.

Until they started to read.  Until EVERYone started to read.

Oh, gawd.  My poor little autistic shysoul almost didn't make it.  But damn, I learned a lot in those weeks.  And made a few special friends who helped me through a rough spot or two.  Or ten.

Anyway, my most popular piece was one I called "Bird Dance."  In it we were supposed to make our story take an unexpected turn.  I'm most proud of it because when I finished reading, there was a long moment of silence before one of the other students said, "I wasn't expecting that at all."  Then Jack exclaimed - rather jubilantly , I thought - that that was how it was supposed to work!  (Oh, and I apologize, Jack.  Too many adverbs).

Anyway, Bernie's little finch reminded me of Bird.  So here is "Bird Dance," a very short story.  (BTW, it really happened).


Bird is in the kitchen again.

She's the plainest little brown bird Nature makes with a shrill one-note chirp as birdsong.

I hear her splashing in the birdbath most mornings.  I believe she appreciates my efforts to fill her little day-spa with tiny roses and Labrador violets.

Today, though, she's come for lunch.  She visits the kitchen on those days when I want the outdoors inside with me.  I know her routine.  First on the fence, checking to see if the welcome mat is out.  Then a silent flutter to the top of the freezer.  From there it's just a quick hop to the island to see if anyone left toast crumbs today.

She scored big time when we got Dodger.  I've never had another animal who made such a mess eating.

Bird loves him.

Today she brought someone with her.  Junior makes me laugh out loud.  All big feet and scruffy feathers without an ounce of grace, he is not as adept at perching on the fence as his mother.  She calls from the top of the freezer.  He sasses back, but she's probably getting tired of feeding a kid who's bigger than she is, so she insists he come in.  He lurches into the kitchen in an uncoordinated flurry of disjointed wings that reminds me more of those revolving-wing garden ornaments than bird flight.  He tries to land on the table but can't get his footing, sliding almost into Dodger, who is dancing in excitement, tripping over his own size sixteen Lab feet.

A quick twist and Junior whirls out of harms way to end up plastered to the family room window screen.  It's clear he won't be going anywhere for a while.  I stop laughing and turn to see how Mom's doing.  I swear she's shaking her little birdy head in the same, "I give up" manner used by moms throughout time.

I will grieve for Bird when she doesn't visit anymore.  It can't be much longer;  she must be getting up there in bird years.

It's odd.  I lost my dad to cancer this summer, and a friend to misperception, fear and temper just this week.  Grief feels the same, whatever the cause.  It's a wound to the soul that festers in the gut until it claws its way to lodge in the throat.

I'm grateful to Nature, who sends plain brown birds and their break-dancing adolescents to comfort me.

Happy to say the story didn't end there.

Summer of 2014,  I had another towhee visitor.  It may have been Bird, I suppose, as there is one on record having lived almost thirteen years.  She came into the kitchen, this time picking up some crumbs off the floor, then headed all the way back to the opposite end of the house to check out my newly redecorated studio.

I still get the towhees in the birdbath, and come summer, I'll continue to leave the kitchen door open to the side yard when I'm here.

She - and her family - is welcome here any time.

Friday, March 25, 2016


Ya think?

Every New Ager in the world has goosebumps.  And happy tears.

The Sparrow has landed.

Monday, March 21, 2016


...is expensive.

Yeah, I just had my taxes done.

Cripes.  I was expecting them to go up, but not that much.  Totally unprepared, especially since I'd had such a financial mess to clean up last year.

The austerity re-commences.

I know how to do this.  I don't like it, but I know how.  I sure liked being able to drive up the coast or go on a whale watch or pick up craft supplies when I wanted.  Dog food and toilet paper?  No problem.

Now I'm back on the tight budget, at least until that pretty lot in Utah sells.

My pile of rocks in the front.  I'm glad I lifted a bunch into my car last summer.  Looks like I'm not going to make it up there this summer after all.

Fortunately, I have pretty cheap tastes.  Never was into clothes and shoes.  My food budget is minimal since I went back on Weight Watchers.   And I have stacks and stacks of craft supplies.  And lots of weeds to pull.  Books to read.  And I already spend most of my leisure time on facebook and pinterest.  Cheap entertainment.  (I wonder if I have enough change in my Mickey Mouse mug to see the new Jungle Book?  I really do want to see it on a big screen at least once.)

So, I guess that's a plus to being married.  Something I don't ever plan to do again.  Not even for a tax break.  But it's going to take me a while to get on top of this.

I might be visiting here more often.

I'm spoiled.  I have a job.  And assets.

And after I came home and crunched the scary numbers for a while, I walked past the front door and noticed the air was pink.  I grabbed my camera and Dodger and I went out to a breathing pink sunset.


I will be fine.  It will take me a few months to get on top of this, but I will get there in a few months.

Actually feeling pretty lucky, all in all.

Saturday, March 12, 2016


I was more worried than I would admit, even to myself.

Blue Flow wallpaper by Tactician

 Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the term "flow" to describe the state of being " fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity."   "In flow, the emotions are positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand...with a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task."   [Wikipedia, which I usually won't reference but this pretty much explains it for me.]

I really only have two pastimes where I consistently experience flow.  Most often I find it in the garden.  I frequently plan to go out for an hour, and end up crawling back into the house dehydrated and inexplicably ravenous only to realize that I've been out there for five hours.   I completely lose track of time.  My favorite thing to do - and my most productive mediation task - is pulling spring grass.  Not the nasty Bermuda stuff, but the lovely, loose-rooted grass with the lovely fragrance of clean spring.  I can't get enough of the flowers and the butterflies and my hands in the dirt. 

Losing the sight in one eye made that task more difficult, but not impossible.

It did make my other flow pastime impossible.

I love all kinds of handwork, but counted cross stitch is my favorite and the only craft in which I experience flow.  How it has hurt to not be able to see well enough to stitch!

Even though I am thrilled with the broad success of my surgery Tuesday,  I've been very nervous about trying to stitch again.  The retinopathy in September 2014 left me with a wrinkle - scar tissue on the retina - that has created an Alice in Wonderland effect in my world at large.  Through my right eye I have no vertical or horizontal lines.  Not straight ones, anyway.  For my day-to-day life this isn't a serious issue.  My left eye works in concert with the right now, well enough that I can do most things (like drive) safely.  But I've been, frankly, terrified to see what a piece of cross stitch fabric looks like with this wavy line thing rocking my world.

"Meadow Dance"  Marjolein Bastin
I spent the day with my mom, and in the safe quiet of her family room I finally pulled out a piece.  Marjolein Bastin's "Meadow Dance."  I bought it years ago and completed only part of the center section before life interfered with my commitment to this beauty.  I grabbed it today because I knew it was on an Aida (the easiest fabric to work with) and in a smaller size (16 count) so that I could truly learn my limits.

Tucked into my Dad's recliner with the natural light coming over my shoulder through the patio door, I first pulled out a #28 tapestry needle (the smallest made for this needle art).  I pulled a double strand and straightened it, took a deep breath and attempted to thread the needle.

I nearly cried from relief when I was able to get the two threads through the eye on the second try.

The next test was to try to slide the thread under adjoining stitches next to the area where I wanted to work.  No problem.

Finally, and the most challenging task, I reached behind the fabric to work the needle up through the tiny hole between adjoining stitches.  And was successful.  Again and again and again and again!

Five stitches.  Five perfect little stitches.

See them?  See that little  green smudge just above the butterfly's head?

No glasses.  No magnifying lens.  I kept imagining they weren't correct, but each time I stated to pull one apart to fix it, I found that yes, it was a perfect little stitch.

I may not get to sleep tonight I'm so excited.  Such an important door opened.  I have dozens of projects I want to work on, a half dozen or more already started.  I'm feeling very grateful that spring break will be here soon and I can devote several days to getting my studio whipped back into shape.  Such a lovely space to be so abused by worry that I would not be able to enjoy the hobbies that I had planned to spend my time on in there.

Getting my life back together.

One stitch at a time.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016


It's  a wonderful thing.

Gift from my brother and sister-in-law to celebrate my successful surgery.  My favorite color of flower, especially roses.

I've had more surgery on my eye.  Last year the retina detached.  I noticed a shadow near my nose, three days before the death of my husband, and then watched as what appeared to be pond water started seeping in, a little more every day.  Three days after the Celebration of Life, I was in having emergency surgery to re-attach the retina.

I've had the same ophthalmologist in Santa Barbara for nearly thirty-five years and trust him completely.  He arranged for a retinal surgeon that he trusted and the surgeon managed to get the retina to completely re-attach.  (I helped by going above-and-beyond on the face-down orders for nine days, and wasn't it fun trying to get the finances understood and under control in that position.)

I have a family history that includes these things, but I've also read that sometimes an injury can cause a weak spot that will take years to finally give up the fight.  I remember 37 years ago I took a racquetball to that eye, so hard that even with protective goggles I could feel the ball collapse into the eye.  So maybe that finally made itself known.

A side effect of the trauma of inter-ocular surgery is that a cataract could bloom.  I'd had one developing in that eye for fifteen years and bloom it did.  I was to the point where I really couldn't use that eye for anything, and got the all clear from the retinal surgeon for the ophthalmologist to do a lens replacement.

That was yesterday.  I had my follow-up appointment this morning and the ophthalmologist announced the status as "lovely."

Yes, it is.  My world is crystal clear colors.  I still have healing to do, but the two eyes are already working better together, which hasn't been the case for about a year.

Simply thrilled and grateful.

Come to LA...

or Thousand Oaks.  Even better.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Well, yes...

...of course.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Disney Princess Medley

I want an album of the full length versions, please.

Maybe I'll see you ladies Saturday.