Friday, December 26, 2014


I've just spent two evenings in a row with my parents.  That's quite enough for the time being.  My husband has already peeled me off the ceiling a couple of times now.  If you want to read a fellow sufferer's horror, read on:

Dear Polly,

I'm heading back home Friday to spend two weeks with my family and I'm a little terrified...

My mother and I have always had a contentious relationship. I let her opinion of me mean way too much to me, and always have. I've armchair diagnosed her with borderline personality disorder (based on my therapist's thoughts and my own reading, which I know makes me sound like a millennial trashbag but it really fits?). She is sensitive and cruel and makes every issue in anyone's life about her. She is emotionally abusive to my sister and me....
Intellectually, I understand. Her criticism is not about me. It would be the same no matter what I was doing with my life. There's nothing I can do to change it, so I shouldn't take it to heart. Emotionally, I've never been able to get there. She gets very anxious around holidays, and that anxiety makes her lash out at us, and I don't know what to do. I don't want to burden my friends, again, for the bajillionth time, with me drunk-sobbing at 4 a.m. about how she's right and I don't deserve to take up space on the planet.
-- Dispirit of Christmas

Dear Dispirit of Christmas,
Sweet Christ in a manger, do I understand! The holidays are heralded as a time of love and warmth and celebration, yet even when you feel calm and optimistic and absolutely turgid with the holiday spirit, every last ounce of joy can be snuffed out upon returning to the fold.  Read more.

I shall not bore you with my own trite details.  Suffice it to say, my daughter and her family arrive tomorrow, and I am looking forward to that.  We actually like each other.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Well, slap me upside mah head -- it's been 9  years today that I began blogging.  Though I've changed my blog a couple of times, the effort has been continual.  Not that it is an effort -- I must enjoy it or I know I would not be continuing for this much time.

And lucky readers, I've shared it all with you.  My retirement from the university, my divorce, the birth of my grandson, the vicissitudes of life.  My photography, my poetry, my silliness, my pain.

Last year I was thinking about all the positive, hard-won changes for me.  Well, if I thought 2013 held great change, I had no idea what 2014 would bring!

I feel like Cinderella, but the clock never struck midnight and I'm still living the dream.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Monday Musings

Change is in the wind.  I was delighted by the President's Friday press conference, in which he took questions from reporters that happen to be women.  Of course, the paranoid and hysterical anti-Obama, anti-woman forces are slamming him for "discrimination."  Jaysus people, take a chill pill.  It was an unusual and symbolic gesture that educated a lot of people.  Yes, women in the press.  The minority.  The often over-looked.  Cheers, Mr. President.

I was gratified to hear that POTUS is also going to "have fun" in his "last quarter."  One of the fun things he is doing is starting the process to normalise relations with the nation of Cuba.  Of course Ted Cruz and Mark-what's-his-face are having hissy fits.  I, and a lot of others, think this move is the right thing to do.  The husband and I are going to Havana in March on a photographic trip.  Arranged by a Cultural Council that has been sanctioned by the US State Dept., because, as we know, the restriction on individual travel to Cuba is still banned by the US.  I have not done much travel outside the US, and Cuba seems like a pretty huge departure from what I am used to, and I'm looking forward to it.  Looking forward to working with a world-class photojournalist in a land that is destined to change dramatically in the next few years.

Reading Facecrack this a.m. and it got me to wondering if there is a snowball's chance in hell that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren could run for, and win, the presidency?  I think it's a stretch, but a gal can dream, can't she?  I don't want Clinton and I certainly don't want another Bush.  I want people who are going to be real game changers.  But maybe that's asking for too much.  Things move very very slowly in this country and I'm not at all sure that we are ready for such monumental shifts in our national paradigm.

And, finally, Anne Lamott  has a great post today on Facebook.  If you have the time, go take a look.  Revelatory.  Though not Christian, I share her love for St. Francis.  He was a revolutionary.  I'll leave you with this/his prayer.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Friday, December 19, 2014


We did our errands in the pouring rain this morning.  Dashing in and out of stores just as the real downpours came alive.  I am glad of it.  We still needs lots of rain here in California.  I saw two satellite photos on the news last night -- one taken in October when the earth was brown, and the latest one a couple of days ago showing bright green with lots of snow in the Sierra range.  We had a sink hole open up along the highway near our home.  The Starbucks nearby looked precarious.  I have no idea what the final outcome was.

When we returned home, we  unpacked our loot, had lunch, and began a little housekeeping.  I was dumping dust, dirt and dog hair into the trash can under the kitchen sink and happened to look up and out the window.  A car had pulled over in front of the house and its occupants were looking at me.  Or so I thought.  Upon further inspection, here is what they were looking at:

I called my husband, "Turkeys in the yard! Turkeys in the yard" and thinking quickly he brought his camera with our brand new telephoto lens.  We quietly opened the front door and he began shooting.  Thank goodness for the new lens!

Too bad we just ordered our Christmas turkey from the co-op.

It continues to pour...I am thankful for a warm and cozy house, warm doggie animals, a well-stocked refrigerator, and the classical music station broadcasting from Paris, France.  And, of course, a husband who can dash outside in the rain for some fun photos.  Nice job, sweetie.

Happy Friday, friends.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday Musings

This morning played out like an episode of the Keystone Cops.  A 9 a.m. phone call from pop, saying he was in town and did I have time for coffee.  In my jammies still (hey, it's raining outside, ok?), I said "sure."  The husband and I got dressed and headed out to pick him up.  He was at a wholistic health center in town with my sister, so that mom could get some physical therapy.  I'd never been there before, and relied on his instructions that he was on 5th Street near L and he could see a gas station.  Okay.  I got this.

Two U-turns later I found the place and pulled up into the front.  He stood outside with a look of consternation on his face.  My husband said something like, "uh-oh."  I asked pop what was wrong, and he mentioned that I was parked on the line, outside the boundaries of the parking space.  I told him was going to have to 'let go' sooner or later.  Then we had to wait inside, because my sister wasn't ready just yet.  Okay.  So we're inside, and the guys are cracking jokes, as they will do.  The husband starts taking pictures.

The looks on our faces are priceless, me thinks.  Can the outsider see what I mean?  I don't know.

So, the sis comes out and we all bundle off to Starbucks.  We get there and there's no room inside, so we grab a table outside (where, did I mention, it is cold and rainy?) under the overhang.  Space is cramped.  There are three police officers inside.  Dad pleads with us to not enter with our hands up.  Funny.  Ha-ha.

I go to move the sign display so we can fit all of our chairs around this postage stamp sized table, and I end up wrecking the sign -- it falls apart in my hands just as the cops walk outside.  I say, sarcastically, "Vandalism! Vandalism!" and the cops smile.  Then I say, "Actually, no vandalism involved, more like ineptitude."  They smile again and acknowledge that no crime has been committed.  On the tip of my tongue is the question, "Ah, yes, but if I were a BLACK MAN, would you have pinned me to the ground by now?"  I keep this to myself.

While drinking our coffee, dad asks how to get a holiday photo card made of a cell phone photo he took.  The ensuing conversation (and the passing of the cell phone around the table) is something akin to a Seinfeld episode.  I should have videoed it.  Truly.  I'm a little slow on the up-take, folks.  Next time, I swear.

So...we're back home now.  Wired on caffeine and chocolate.  An hour out of our morning to entertain pops.  Job done.  I have no clue what the point of this post is.  Perhaps you will find our shenanigans entertaining.  Perhaps not.

I, in any case, am ready for a nap.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

December 10 Revisited

Three years ago today I posted this (below) on my original blog.    How in the world was I to know what the next three years would bring?  I couldn't possibly, and so, I promised myself to carry on with an open mind and open heart.  It served me well on a day to day basis and in the long term.  Just one year ago I was first falling in love with a dear friend.  Now, a year later, we are married and living in a new town.  As close friends will attest, I swore I'd never marry again.  Been there.  Done that.  Ha.

I think I'd still be happy as a single woman.  Life is good, either way.  But being with my husband, who, in many ways, is very much like me, makes experiencing life that much more fun.  I have, against all odds, found a mature and honest relationship that sustains me and brings out the best in me.

The message is: you never know what the future holds.  Carry on.  Celebrate the goodness in your life, and be open to the unexpected. 

Fiat Lux

I experience this emotional clash each year during the holidays, starting with Halloween and ending with Valentine's day. So much hype and expectation for fun, frivolity and fellowship. I'm feeling the love this year, and enjoying the holidays with friends and family, and generally not getting caught up in the excess.

However, I am also acutely aware, how many people are struggling. It may be financial or emotional, or mental. It's the worst time of year to be in the pits of despair, because dammit, you're supposed to be HAPPY and you're supposed to CELEBRATE.

This year is my first Christmas in a decade I will not be with my wife. I've already passed the first Thanksgiving, and I sailed through that happily with my family. Though she was never a huge fan of Christmas, it is nevertheless odd not have her around during the holidays. I know a few other folks who are experiencing their first post-separation/divorce holiday season and my heart goes out to them. If we all lived in the same town, I would say "Come on over!" and we could hold each other up and toast to our new adventures in life.

As this calendar year ends and a new one soon begins, it sets me to wondering what lies ahead. What will I being doing next December? And the following? And...? I cannot know. But I'm okay with that. I don't need to know. As read on Mountain Musings this morning, "Seneca the Younger said it well:  'Expecting is the greatest impediment to living. In anticipation of tomorrow it loses today.'"

Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday Musings

photo by Tara Crowley

Over the weekend I enjoyed a small pot of black tea (loose leaf) in one of my lovely teacups.  It was such a soothing and delightful break in my day, it made me wonder why I don't do it more often.  Turns out it is the perfect refreshment between lunch and dinner, and the caffeine and sugar gives one a boost to counter the mid-afternoon blahs.  Of course, people around the world have known this forever.  I'm a little slow on the up-take.

My interlude got me thinking about two memorable tea events in my life (this is how seldom I do it up right):  A zen tea ceremony at Naropa University, and high tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC, for my 50th birthday.  Both were quite the occasion, singular events steeped (no pun intended) in tradition.  My English tea was served as 'high tea,' which is to say it was served at a high table with savory and sweet finger foods.  Served in a grand Victorian style room with palms and a beautifully laid table, I was aware that I was partaking in an ages old ritual.  The Zen tea ceremony is also ages old, very prescribed behavior which is aimed at focusing participants on mindfulness and meditation.  The host of such a ceremony folds the napkins a particular way, slowly and ceremoniously, stirs the thick pasty tea methodically.  All induced a trance like state for me.  The tea bowl is passed amongst the participants who drink from it communally.

The two ceremonies couldn't be more different.  The elaborate elegance of the English versus the simple austerity of the Zen.  Both have their charm.   The tea vessels illustrate this well: the delicate hand-painted bone china and the irregular earthenware bowl.  The ying and yang

Feels like that these days: the simple comfort of drinking tea in the afternoon versus the die-ins at Macy's and Apple stores.  Life is both those things.  It's all that.  And a bag of chips.

Friday, December 5, 2014


We had a scrumptious dinner out on this rainy Friday night.  Good food and wine, and utterly delightful company.

Earlier in the day, we set up the Christmas tree, which is our first tree together since getting married.  Later in the month, for Hanuka, we will light the candles on the Menorah.  Maybe this month we ought to honor Kwanza as well.  In solidarity.

Upon returning home this evening, I heard about the various demonstrations around the country to protest police brutality and the killing of black men at an alarming rate (and completely disproportionate to their percentage of the general population).  As I was watching demonstrations, I thought of the beautiful Sam Cooke 1964 song, "A Change is Gonna Come."  It's heartbreaking that all these years later, that change is something many of us are still hoping for. 

"A Change Is Gonna Come"
I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh, and just like the river I've been running ever since

It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gon' come, oh yes it will

It's been too hard living, but I'm afraid to die
Cause I don't know what's up there beyond the sky

It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gon' come, oh yes it will

I go to the movie and I go down town
Somebody keep telling me don't hang around

Its been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gon' come, oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother
And I say, "Brother, help me please."
But he winds up knockin' me
Back down on my knees

There been times when I thought I couldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on

It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gon' come, oh yes it will 

All of us, all of us, in big and small ways, can work for change.  It starts with an open heart and a passion for justice.   Hope you discover your path for change.  Blessed be this crazy life, full of good and bad and everything in between.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday Musings

What a busy holiday we just had!  It was great fun, but then I completely deflated.  Sunday afternoon I didn't get dressed until three o'clock.  Maybe four.  I can't remember.  The husband made a great ham and cheese omelet, which we had at 11:30.  He had brought me coffee in bed at 8:30 (because he is a dear man) and I lolled around until 9:30 before rising.  Sometimes I worry he thinks I am a world class slouch, because this is the kind of thing I would think of anyone who sleeps as much as I do (and enjoys it as enthusiastically).

We hosted a lunch on Friday with my new family finally meeting my 'old' family.  It was a food laden, beveragelicious, soccer playin' affair.  Not enough room at the dining table, so I fashioned a table outside.  Luckily, it didn't rain until Saturday.

My husband's daughter has the most delightful in-laws.  They were born and raised in New York City and I had great fun meeting them.  So much so, that I told my husband we should go visit them sometime.  Seriously.  Sophisticated and funny, loving and brash, they are what I affectionately call "My People."  I have always appreciated New Yorkers and would love to live there myself if it weren't, ah, New York.  It's the weather, frankly.  Everything else: love it.

Anyway, there were New Yorkers there, and a son-in-law from Senegal. I know NOTHING of Senegal, other than it is a West African country.  He had a beautiful accent, and a great command of English, French and, I assume, his native tongue.  He is very dark skinned, and his 2 year son is a luscious caramel brown.  We were talking about how great it will be when everyone in the world has children with everyone else and there will be no more divides along so called racial lines.  We're all one race as it is.  In any case, we didn't discuss the events in Ferguson or the general racism of these United States.  But it struck me that, because that adorable toddler is brown, perceived "black" in the U.S., his parents will probably have "the talk" with him. 

Late in the day on Saturday, I heard about the case of police shooting a man in Walmart.  Shopping while black was the apparent motive.

I watched the video.  Guy picks up a pellet gun which Walmart is selling.  Then he wanders the store talking to his girlfriend on a cell phone.  Someone freaks (black man with a gun!!!) and calls 911, giving misleading and incriminating information.  Cops rush in and shoot him.  In a store which ALLOWS patrons to 'open carry' guns, by the way.

I am disgusted.  This happened in August, while everyone was up in arms over the Michael Brown case, and this case slipped under the news media wire until now.  Because, of course, the Grand Jury will not indict the police officer.

Apparently, if you are a black male in Amerika, it is not safe to venture outside at all. 

On the plus side, there is a great video of a citizen standing up to police in a Washington DC suburb.  This citizen was not shot, because she is white.  This is something worth watching.

 Peace and Goodwill to all.  Let's keep moving forward, together.

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...