Saturday, July 20, 2024



A friend is grieving the loss of her long time love and life partner.  It is wrenching, but she is remembering the good times, their travels, and the love they shared.

It brings back to me the grief I experienced at the loss of my husband, Steve, almost five years ago now.  We were together a short amount of time but we packed a lot of living into those six years.  We didn't know our time would be so short but we had a real 'carpe diem' attitude about our meeting, falling in love, and marrying.

The ending was complicated by the dementia that took over his brain.  So much bitterness, anger and confusion.  Truly harrowing.  Only healed in the last week of his life in the nursing care wing of our retirement community. He had moments of clarity where deep connection was allowed between us.  His daughter said he was calm when I was around.  

My friend is writing about her amazing travels with her partner, and that brings up very fond memories I have of my travels with Steve. This photo was taken in Paris, with two friends of ours who happened to be in Paris at the same time!  What a nice surprise.

Our travels were always an adventure.  I had never been to Europe, nor Cuba, and we went several times over the years.  Steve was fluent in French, and my Spanish was passable, so together we worked it out.  I will be forever grateful for his enthusiasm and willingness to share an adventure with me. 

What I've discovered, anew, about grief is that the sting of loss never goes away.  Not a day goes by where I do not think of Steve.  The good and the bad. As time moves on, however, I find most of my memories are good ones and my gratitude around finding him continues.  An accomplished man, intelligent and creative.  He adored me and I felt that.  The sharp pain of loss softens while the sweet memories bloom easily.  For that, I can be entirely at peace.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Yellow Cottage, Part 2

I have a dear friend who I met in my Creative Writing class my freshman year in college.  I sent the poem to her for her comments and edits because I knew she would make it better, and she did! Most of her adult life after college, she was an editor.  Not that it matters, but she knows this cottage that I write about, and the man who lived with me in it.

The Yellow Cottage

Nestled between two imposing stories,

Squat, hunkered down,

Protected by a white picket fence,

Two blocks from the deep blue bay,

Where sea lions bark and gulls squawk,

And the foghorn sounds.

I stood outside the fence,

Camera raised and clicking,

Trying to capture a time 

When I entered, with groceries and textbooks,

To find comfort on the couch.

My love and I lived within these cottage walls --

    one bedroom,

    a serviceable kitchen,

    no laundry.

The years to come, just a dream --

Two hapless youths on our way.

Hope lived within us.

I stand before the cottage, decades on,

And he is gone, far too young.

I wonder at the life within those walls,

And yearn, once more, to enter that space

and absorb whatever energy and insight

The yellow cottage has to give.

Țară Crowley, 2024

Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Yellow Cottage

The Yellow Cottage

Nestled between imposing two stories

A miniature home bathed in yellow

Squat, hunkered down

protected by a white picket fence

two blocks from the deep blue bay 

 barking sea lions and squawking gulls

the lighthouse fog horn calling out 

I stood outside the fence

camera raised and clicking

trying to capture a time

when I entered carrying groceries and text books,

to find my comfy spot on the couch

My love and I lived in those four walls

a single bedroom

a serviceable kitchen

no garage

no laundry


the years to come, just a dream

two hapless youths on our way

hope lived within us

I now stand before it, decades away

and he is gone too young

I wonder at the life within those walls

and yearn to enter that space once more

absorbing any residual energy and insights 

the yellow cottage has to give


Wednesday, May 22, 2024

You Can Go Home Again

 I took a vacation in the first week of May.  I went back to my high school and college stomping grounds, still populated by many friends of the time.  I needed to get away to refresh my spirit, and I wanted to go somewhere fairly close and manageable.  My physical energy has been low for a long while, so this was also a bit of test to see how I could do with travel.  Lucky me, United flys direct from Denver to Monterey.  Monterey airport is a teeny tiny place that hasn't changed in decades.  They welcome you at the door when you enter from the tarmac.

My first stop in town was to the cemetery where my parents are buried.  It was my first visit since we buried their ashes.  The flat headstone was littered with new mown lawn and dirt.  It looked so insignificant there.  Sigh.

I headed off to visit with my college friend in the condo where she has lived for thirty years.  In the evening we went to dinner on the wharf.  Delicious sand dabs, cooked perfectly, with sautéed peppers and a nice crisp sauv blanc.  We wandered around afterward.

This pink gem is located at the top of the wharf.

As a teen, the wharf was someplace I avoided because of the tourists, but this trip it was a fun place to visit.  Not only did I have dinner there with my old chum, I had lunch a few days later with my ex-wife.  It's been thirteen years and the ending was ugly back then.  Time and tragedy, however, have softened us both and we spent a couple of hours catching each other up on our lives and our children. It was healing and left me feeling peaceful.  Never say never.  People do change.  Not radically, but in meaningful ways.

The great thing about this trip was the connections with my friends that I've known for 45 years.  My dance card was full with them.  It was like a farewell tour, but I hope it's not!

Remember that little house I mentioned a few posts ago?  I went by and took some photos.  I think I could live there again.  If somebody laid 800k on me.

So many memories walking down that street, standing at the gate.  That's where I lived when I married in 1978.  I could listen to the sea lines on the rocks two blocks away as I fell asleep.  The fog horn and the seagulls.  A lovely existence.  I was too young to really appreciate it and now these decades later I wish I could have it back.  It's nothing special, and yet it is.

I stayed at my favorite hotel in downtown Monterey for three nights, then moved out to Carmel Valley to stay at The Lodge.  The valley is a completely different ecosystem - arid, sunny, vineyards and sprawling oak trees.  Very much like the south of France.  Everywhere, even at the coast, the Mediterranean plants: cactus, the spiky Pride of Madera, artichokes, lavender and citrus trees.  The scent from all of these darlings is heady.

More on my wonderful valley stay later.

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.---


  A friend is grieving the loss of her long time love and life partner.  It is wrenching, but she is remembering the good times, their trave...