Thursday, March 14, 2024

Short But Sweet

I took a very short getaway with my daughter and grandkids.  We flew to our old stomping grounds in Santa Cruz, CA.  It was supposed to be three nights but it turned into two when a huge storm was forecast for Denver, our return destination.  So we bugged out of our lovely vacation rental early.  Good thing, too, for the storm has arrived and it is not pretty. Here are my old friends whom I have not seen in 15 years.  We enjoyed tacos and margaritas at a restaurant on the SC Wharf.  It was one of those get togethers where no time at all seems to have gone by.  They are warm and gracious as ever.

The vacation rental has a hot tub, which we all enjoyed, including some friends of the grandkids.  The house was quite near the yatch harbor, and I fell asleep to the sound of sea lions barking.  An old familiar sound for me.  I haven't been in the area in a decade, and I forgot how much I love the local flora: palm trees, evergreens, succulents, honeysuckle bushes spilling over the fence, Peruvian lilies in abundance.  Oh, and the Acacia trees with their bright yellow flowers filled with pollen populating all the mountain roadways.

Nothing ever stays the same, and Santa Cruz is quite changed.  High rises downtown, houses on the ocean front threatened by erosion and high waves and also huge buildings on Mission Street.  Of course I drove by some of my old houses there, including the one where I lived with my wife before our divorce.  I drove by that one, too, and lo and behold, she was out front unloading groceries from her car.  I didn't stop because I wasn't sure I'd be welcome.  Subsequent texting informed me that I would be most welcome.  We were trying to put something together when the news came that we had to change our flight and leave a day early. So, there you go.  But it was comforting to know that she wouldn't be waiting for me at her front door with a shotgun.  I supposed enough time (twelve. years) has gone by to soften and make fuzzy all the very bad things that happened.

It was fun spending time with the grandkids.  They were lil' champions on this trip!  Upbeat and cooperative.  They had a great time going to the amusement park and the local aquarium.  They loved seeing their cousins and friends.

Despite having to cut short an already short trip, it was indeed a sweet time with everyone.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Obituary, Draft #1

I want to write my own.  Because, you know, I know my life best.  And because I don't want my daughter to have to summarise it all. I'm not near dying, which is the best time to think about these things.

Born in 1957, the heyday of post war America, Tara was born to young and industrious parents, who would go on to provide a good life for their three daughters.  Ann and Patrick Crowley did a pretty good job.

Tara lived throughout California, from San Diego to Sacramento.  Her most memorable years were on the Monterey Peninsula and north in Santa Cruz.  Here she gave birth to her daughter at age 30, a long awaited and most joyous birth.

Tara was a young go-getter, going to college at Monterey Peninsula College while working various part time jobs and volunteering as a DJ at a local Community Radio station, KAZU.  This is where she met her first husband, and father of her child, Kevin Sean Cashen.  They both moved to Santa Cruz for Tara to pursue a degree in Fine Art.

After the birth of her daughter, she worked at UC Santa Cruz for 23 years in various positions within the Student Affairs division.  She survived the political tumult endemic to universities, until she'd had enough and took early retirement at 52 years of age.  She worked briefly as a home health aide before providing care for her mother, who lived with Parkinson's Disease.

In 2020, Tara was predeceased my her husband, Dr. Steve D. Barbour.  Upon his death she moved to northern Colorado to join her daughter and family.

Tara had many interests, including musicianship, writing, fine arts and photography.  She was inspired by her great great Aunt Lou Goodale Bigelow, a pioneering photographer in the early 1900s.  

Tara's life was graced with intimate, lifelong friendships, from a junior high school classmate to friends of her parents.  This was her passion: the friends she made in life who shared values, passions, and their hearts over the decades.

Tara is survived by her daughter, Laurel Cashen Harris (Josh) and two grandchildren, Eden and Dylan.

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Garden Song

 Have you heard the song?  

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground

Inch by inch, row by row
Someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below
Till the rain comes tumblin' down

Pullin' weeds and pickin' stones
Man is made of dreams and bones
Feel the need to grow my own
'Cause the time is close at hand

I was surprised to hear it was written by John Denver.  I always thought it was Pete Seeger.  Nope.

It's a new year, 2024, and while I don't make resolutions (who needs to be disappointed?) I do like to reflect.  I'll be sixty seven this summer, which is an odd thing, and yet not.  Like most of us, I feel to be much younger in my mind if not my body.

It occurs to be that the years have been teaching me patience and self-love.  I have overcome huge obstacles and know that, no matter what, I am resilient as hell.

I am moving along, reaching out and making new friends; enjoying activities however small.  I don't venture too far from home these days.  Mostly because I have a newish dog and don't want to leave her.  Also because, although I do love people, paradoxically they annoy me no end.  The thought of air travel is daunting.  Have you seen the mess at the airports?  A sea of humanity.  No thanks for now.

I try to get friends from California to come to me.  A couple did, and they contracted Covid while visiting their son before coming north to my place.  Maybe caught it in the airport, we don't know.  It was a miserable "vacation" for them, stuck in a hotel room and not well enough to fly home immediately.  Though the peak of the pandemic is passed, I personally know many people who have been sick with it in the last few months.  It's a miracle I haven't had it (knock on wood).  Perhaps it's my religious adherence to booster shots and the fact that I don't hang out in large crowds of people.

In case you missed it, this is the two year anniversary of the attempted coup in Washington D.C.  45's treachery is well known even though a third of the country refuses to acknowledge it.  Liz Cheney's book, "Oath and Honour" is out but you know that die-hard MAGA folks are not going to read it.  And so it goes.

On a Zoom call this morning, I told my friends that I don't get too exercised over politics these days.  I've been engaged over the decades and I'm laying it aside.  Of course I observe, and talk with friends about it, but it is up to younger folks to step into the fray.  I'm tired and tired of it.

I hope your holidays were what you wished for.  Happy New Year, filled with peace and contentment, from me to you.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Goings On in Northern Colorado

Gosh, but it's been a minute since I posted.

I've been consumed with my move, and adopting a new dog!  The house is coming together - I moved in July 15 - and it's been exciting but exhausting.  Some days just throwing my legs over to get out of bed was a chore.  I'm getting a big return for all my efforts: a house that I love.  Of course I had help from family and friends, for which I am extremely and eternally grateful.  I know I said this when I moved to my condo four years ago, but THIS IS THE LAST TIME.  I'm too old for this shit.

My newest dog, Dori, is bringing great amounts of joy.  I'm also getting used to young energy (she's 1 yr 3 mos) and some potty training issues.  She's getting better, but sometimes I still find a turd (or two) tucked behind a chair or in the laundry room.  Working on that.

How could I possibly get mad at this little girl?  She's adorable.  Lucy is getting along with her, and just in the last couple of days they share the dog bed.  Lucy doesn't look thrilled being squished in there with Dori, but she's a good sport and tolerates it.

They are both sleeping with me, under the covers.  My main bedroom is in the basement, beautifully finished with a lux bathroom.  It's cool down there which is perfect for the summer heat.  I don't run the air conditioning much.  It's fabulously chilly and I crawl into bed and pull the covers over me.  No air required!

It's been fun decorating.  Orange curtains, new rugs, and a couple of pieces of furniture refurbished by a friend of mine.  This is her side business and I love her work.  So far I've purchased two dressers and an ornate antique side table.  

So that's how it has been going.  I don't read blogs much anymore.  I don't expect that people will read mine.  Gone are my days of excited posting that I kept up for over a decade.  I only have so much energy. Only so much space in my brain.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Magic and the Passing of Time

Just about a year ago now, I was headed for a fall.  I had my bariatric by-pass surgery and was hoping to shed a lot of unwanted pounds and begin a whole new way of eating and relating to food. Not to mention moving through the world with a lot less weight on my bones.

Despite high hopes, and following doctor's orders, I would suffer from an ulcer in my stomach instead, and after not eating for almost 2 months (seriously) I was rushed to the hospital with a severe bleed in my stomach.  Surgery and a long recovery that seemed endless, I couldn't possibly know that a year after my release from rehab in July, I would be moving to a new house!  Selling my little condo and buying a 2 story home with room for overnight guests.  I hope to fill those guest rooms with, well, guests!  

I truly thought my condo, sweet little space that it has been, would be my last home.  I was hoping the traffic noise out the back, and the train whistle several times a day would fade into the background.  But they did not.  I love my dear neighbours and will be sad not to be a few steps away from them, but the noise is driving me nuts.

I decided to call my former realtor and ask her to work with me.  I wasn't necessarily prepared to buy right away, but I thought I would look around and see what the market was doing.

Suffice it to say we saw a lot of sub-par properties that cost a lot of money.  I had the insane notion of looking at homes near our city's Old Town, which I knew would be pricey but I wanted to look anyway.  It was a great awakening and it led me to look in other areas close to Old Town but not in Old Town.

This lovely 2 story farm style house was by far the best property I saw.  I put in an offer and I knew there would be multiple people vying for the same home.  I didn't hope too much, so I was shocked when my offer was selected!  The big advantage of my offer is that I would assume the mortgage after a fairly quick escrow and let the seller (now my tenant) stay in the home until July.  I'm in no rush to get out of my condo, so I could do this.  I wasn't the highest bidder, but this consideration to the seller was what sealed the deal.

I put my condo on the market last Friday and on Sunday we (Shawna, my realtor and I) were entertaining two offers.  Both cash.  One higher but they wanted to assume the mortgage after closing and have me pay rent.  I didn't like the paying rent part.  So we negotiated on that and they gave me the same deal I gave my seller.  

A good real estate agent is worth their weight in gold.  The financial and legal considerations are many and complex.  Shawna keeps me from doing a primal scream a couple of times a day.  I don't know how she manages this business.  7 days a week, late nights and early mornings.  You've got to love the work because it demands a lot from you.

My daughter is concerned that I'm going from a one-story to a two-story (with a finished basement to boot), especially at my age.  I thought a lot about this, and decided that perhaps going up and down stairs would aid in keeping me fit.  I might be delusional, but time will tell.  It's a lovely house with lots of light and a fenced back yard for Lucy.  After she adjusts to the move, my plan is do adopt another dog.  That's something I couldn't do in my condo neighbourhood due to pet restrictions.  I love the thought of another dog hanging out with us.  An older dog, no puppies for me!

Unbelievably enough, after a year of languishing and feeling pretty damned depressed about it, buying a new home has given me a sense of purpose that I've been lacking.  Another gift from my dearly departed parents, the ability to buy a stand alone single family home all by myself.  I hope they know how happy I am.  I wish I could call them on the phone and tell them all about it.  Perhaps, wherever they are, they do know.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Can You Go Home Again?

In 1977 and 1978, my first husband and I lived in a 560 square foot cottage in a picture perfect beach town in California.  It was a great little cottage, but built for summer use only with no insulation whatsoever.  We left it when I went off to college in Santa Cruz.

I came across our wedding invitation while sorting old paperwork, and there was the address for RSVPs. I looked it up and there it was!  Cleaned up, inside and out.  My mind immediately began trippin' on renting it again for a vacation home.  Nostalgia? A longing for my old life?  A practical solution to my desire to return to the area for parts of the year?  Yes, all.  What would it be like to live there and spend time in the area as my senior self instead of my twenty year old self?  It's still listed as a rental, not for sale.  

The concept of time is a very strange one.  Emotionally, I can be back in 1977 in the blink of an eye.  Naive, frightened of adult life, clinging to a husband who was not a very good match.  I had delusions of grandeur that were never fulfilled.  I could also feel suicidal.  I think I'd like to go back now because I feel stable, and okay, and would like to envelope my old self with compassion and a new appreciation of life.

My last therapy session was about self-compassion, and then I spent several days in a funk.  So much for intentions.  Today, at last, I feel I am coming out of it, ready to join the world again.  

It may be unrealistic to expect this cottage to be available, but I would like it if it were.  I'd like to spend the better part of a year there and seeing it with new eyes.  It might be good therapy.  Old homes can have such poignant memories, and this one does for me.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Drugs, Secret Crushes and a New Career

After my last drug assisted therapy session, my doctor advised me to go home and journal. I took a long nap, par for the course after one of these treatments. I woke up and a stand-up skit was running through my brain. I recorded it so I wouldn't lose it. So here it is, I'm going to 'workshop' it here with you now.
So, my secret crush (don't tell anyone) is comedian Marc Maron. It's more than a crush, really. He should be my life partner, but we don't run in the same circles, so, that's a little tough. I could stalk him but tht could get a little, uh, well, it could mean jail time and I'm too old for jail. Unless of course I ran out all my money. Then, sure, let the state take care of me. I might even get a little sex out of it. But think about it, who wants sex at my age? I mean, god, the last time I saw my libido it was walking out the front door, turned and yelled, "I'm going for some smokes!" You know the drill. It's always milk, or bread, or cigarettes. They never came back. That was that. End of story. /> But recently I signed up for a match making service, which is kind of odd since I don't really want to fuck anybody. But sure, it would be nice to have that special someone to... fight with over how to load a dishwasher or about how much sex we are or are not having, or why he leaves his underwear on the floor or why I want so much 'alone time.' But pillow talk, yeah, pillow talk, now that would be nice. Then we'd go to sleep and I'd drive him out of the room. I snore like Mt. Visuvias. I have what they call 'sleep apenea.' They say it really messes with your heart and could lead to stroke. I have, however, other things going on that are likely to lead to stroke (and have done so) so I'm not that worried. 

So far all the men have been annoying. I might switch back to women if this whole 'man thing' doesn't work out. Women are, and I'm just being honest here, are just as difficult as men. I've been married four times: twice to men and twice to women. I'm an equal opportunity serial monogomist. My paternal grandmother was married FIVE TIMES, so I'm on my way to tying, or even beating (God willing) her record. I'm not there yet, but I'm giving it my best shot. "Hey grandma, I'm trying my best! Thank you for giving me something to aspire to!"

So, back to Marc. Since I don't want to creep him out by stalking him, I figured I'd take the MUCH EASIER WAY and become a stand-up comedian. Right? So, if I'm on the circut, I stand a much better chance of running into him, or having him hear about my bit. He'd want to check me out then, right? Doesn't matter that I've never ever wanted this career path, EVER. 

 I'll do it for Marc. That's how deep my love goes. ---End scene.---

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

What A Long Strange Trip it's Been

I just caught up with the season premire of "Last Week Tonight" with John Oliver. Much to my surprise, his main story was about psychadelic assisted therapy. If you have not seen Michael Polan's series on the same subject, "How to Change Your Mind," I highly recommend it. Humans have lived with, and benefitted from, mind alerting substance since...well, time began. When the U.S. government put the brakes on LSD and Mushroom therapy in the 1970s (FU Richard Nixon) , all the reseach was halted. Now, many veterans of war are benifitting from this therapy in order to cure their PTSD symptoms. Last election cycle in Colorado, we voted to end the criminalization of these substances and the therapudic community is now using various kinds of drugs to assist in therapy for PTSD, depression, alcohoism and the like. I've been participating this assisted therapy for a few sessions now. Each session is very different from the other, and each time there are new insights and surprises. I trust my doctor very much, which is essential when you are this vulnerable. And vulneraable you are during these 'trips.' I used pyschadelics as an older teen, and used them in a conscious way to explore my mind and spirit, to great effect. That's one of the reasons I feel comfortable revisiting this kind of experience. I can't imagine doing this without my prior experiece. What do you do when you find yourself floating in the blackness of space? You go with it, and it leads you to a different space; maybe a tunnel or a series of shapes and colors. Most times I don't know if I'm upside down or still in the reclining chair in my doc's office. It's a true out of body experience. Much more powerful than any LSD I ever took. I'm hoping these sessions will help me shake my persistant depression, which has become much worse in the Covid world, and after the deaths of loved ones. Time will tell I suppose.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Of Children and Parents

I love David Sedaris.  I've seen him read three times, and have read most of his books.  There's a good interview with him in Tricycle.  His father died in 2021.  Mine in 2022.  David and I are six months apart in age.  We both had fathers who were assholes, and devotees of Fox so-called News.  The programming on that channel taped into and amplified their natural tendency to rage against the world.  When David's father became ill with Alzheimers, he didn't watch t.v. anymore.  He also became a sweet, chipper old dude.  Alzheimers can really change a person's personality (either good or bad).  My mother had Parkinson's dementia, which changed her into a very sweet and demonstrative person.  She had never been that way to her children before.  I know she was with various friends, but never with us.

David's father wrote him out of his will.  What a rotten thing to do.  My grandparents wrote my mother out of their will and left her a small token amount so that the will could not be contested.  She never cashed the check.  She signed it over to my sister and asked that it be donated to charity.  Not one of her four siblings stepped forward to make it right.  God knows David needs no additional money; he's plenty rich.  But I hope his siblings made things right.  

My parents were generous and even-handed in their will.  Split three ways between their three children.  Easy peasy.  Those of us who had loans with my parents had the balance deducted from our share.  My mother was a genius at penny pinching, saving money and investments.  Left to his own devices, my father would have bought a new sports car every year.  Thank you, mom.  You left your children well taken care of.  Financially.

I wonder if the hurts we held onto during their lives will ever leave us?  Dad's narcissism  and mom's coldness.  None of us felt the love and support that we craved.  We had food in our bellies and shoes o our feet, and always a nice home to live in.  Never, however, parental involvement in the things we did and wanted to do.  Self-involved, they were.  There are worse things, of course.  But these were the deficits we lived with and still sometimes grapple with.

With the interment of their ashes last month, we completed the circle of their lives and of our duty to them.  Now it's onward to figure out how we want the rest of our years to be.  I find this whole business of living to be very strange.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Not My Cup of Tea


I must be a crazy old lady to have signed up for an on-line dating site.  Two of them: Silver Singles and Zoosk.   It has been an enlightening experience, shall we say....

I don't know what got hold of my mind, as I've been quite content being single.  As I began to come out of the doldrums of the pandemic lockdowns and my own, unrelated, near death experience, I saw the world anew, full of possibility.  "Why not?" I asked.  So I did.

There are plenty of con men on-line, and both my sites have already notified  me that they pulled a member because of suspicious activity.  Yikes.  There are also warnings about not giving people money and/or bank account information.  Who would do that?!

I have a brunch date tomorrow with a man I've talked to on the phone multiple times.  We never run out of topics and we have many common interests.  However,  I am approaching this with extreme caution.  Neutral location, no last names, yada yada.  I'm also clear that whomever I meet I want to take it very slowly.  I'm looking for a friend who might end up being a partner.  I'm also clear I don't want to marry, and I really enjoy living alone, so they'd have to be okay with that.

Yesterday I canceled one of the sites because I just wasn't see any good candidates. I may do the same with the other.  What I did do was contact a match making service.   A friend of mine recently had very good luck with a service, and so I have taken the plunge.  The advantages are 1,) screening and background checks 2.) a deep dive into each person in order to find a good match 3.) no need to scroll through websites every few days on a search.

This whole process may lead me to understand that I am, indeed, happy to be on my own.  If that is the case, so be it.  I read an article in the NYT this week that said, statistically, people who have lots of friends, or a few really good friends, have fewer risks of stroke, heart attack and other maladies.  I've read similar studies before.  Even more than romantic attachment, friendships are the stuff of a good and happy life.  In that regard, I am wealthy beyond measure.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022


I watched this beautiful film today.  I love Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth, so this 2020 film was a natural for me.  It deals with some pretty rough topics and I had strong reactions to the characters motivations.  It's a complex story about love, living with memory loss (dementia and or Alzheimers), what it means to be human and in control of your destiny.  The couple are adorable, and obviously have been together for a long time.  Excellent acting, here.  Each represents a realistic view of what they want to have happen as one of them declines.  And they are different.  Much like Steve and me, the man in decline makes key decisions that will mean the end of their relationship, and the other man fights back at this, imploring his husband to let him be there for him, come thick and thin, to the end.  It was, for me, a very familiar conundrum. A painful one.

When Steve asked me to leave and let him die alone, I was mostly very PISSED OFF.  How dare he make this decision for the both of us.? I wasn't able to find my compassion until the very end, spending his last week with him in nursing care.  It was only then I really understood what he wanted to shield me from.  Still didn't like it, but I understood and forgave.  So, yes, this movie really affected me (triggered, as the young folks say).  Carthartic for me to see this film.

Next month will be three years since Steve left us.  It seems like just yesterday and it also seems an eternity.  I am more able now to remember the good times and what fun we had together.  That's a blessing.

So, if you're up for a really good film that gets emotionally tough but has resolution, Supernova is for you.  If you have film favorites you'd like to share, please do!

Short But Sweet

I took a very short getaway with my daughter and grandkids.  We flew to our old stomping grounds in Santa Cruz, CA.  It was supposed to be t...