Monday, August 29, 2016

Monday Musings

Steve and I drove to Carmel this weekend so that I could see my buddies from high school at a small reunion 40 years down the line.  This wasn't a regular high school reunion, which we eschew, it is a gathering of Merry Pranksters from the Grey Fox Alternative High School, that we, ourselves, founded in the mid seventies.  I was on the verge of dropping out of high school because I saw no relevance there, no spark of learning, only rote and bells and attendance calls.  It was a grand experiment by some kids and teachers who decided there had to be more to our high school education.  In any case, it kept me in school.  The thrill of developing curriculum that would speak to us, teach us skills we valued, and take us out of the bland box of standard pedagogy. 

After high school we all went our separate ways, off to college and adult lives far from our home town.  Some remained, choosing the beauty and familiarity of Big Sur, Carmel, Monterey and Carmel Valley.  Who wouldn't?  Some raised children, others did not.  Some have been coupled since those heady days, but many of us have switched partners twice, or three times.  One of the traits that define this small group of people, however, is our creativity.  Whether established artists or fine crafts people, many of us have led the life of the artist while keeping our day jobs.

On Saturday we looked through old yearbooks, ate great food that we made (with a little  help from delicious pizza from a shop), drank wine that was made my one of our husbands.  We were treated to a guitar performance by same said husband, laughed and hugged and marveled at one another.

It was a casual affair in a park, as is our way.  It was perfection.  5 lazy hours shifting between sun and shade, sharing stories old and new.

Some of us have remarkably good memories.  One friend sang I song that I wrote in high school and I did not even remember it!  I had him sing it again and sure enough, small bits of tangible memory came back to me.  This was a fellow that joined me in a love of guitar playing and song writing.  Good lawd but he has a crystal clear memory!

Of course there were the jokes about getting older.  We're all between 58 and 61.  Stories of brains turned to mush, bodies that are ailing, spouses who have been ill and some that have died.  The Circle Game.  

Many times, high school reunions are about showing off the riches of one's life.  People struggle ahead of time to lose weight in order to look their 'best.'  With this group, however, we consider each other to be one of the best riches of our lives.  The enduring friendships that are now made easier with social media.  We're mostly still the off-beat, funky, hippie types we were in high school.  Quilt makers, bread bakers, musicians, painters, inventors, teachers and massage therapists.  

Of course Steve got on with them all.  I knew he would.  

We began the weekend by having dinner Friday with a dear friend from college whom I don't get to see that often.  But we love, love, love one another.  Bliss. We ended the weekend swinging through Santa Cruz to have breakfast with my daughter and her family before heading home.

It was a spectacularly love-packed weekend, and I'm full to the brim. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Monday Musings

When in a funk, I am not fun to be around.  I know this.  And my husband is finding it out the hard way.  I've been down since hearing that my parents don't qualify for the retirement place they were all scheduled to move into.  It's a shock.  Everything was moving towards the move.  There was forward momentum, albeit slow.  Then, the doctor for the facility reviewed mom's medical records and said, essentially, that she is too advanced in her declining health to be admitted.  I think the whole process should be reversed, with a medical review FIRST, and then if you pass the review, you start the application and purchase process.  This has been a real let down for the entire family.  It seems, now, their two choices are to have more in home care (dad is burning out quickly) or to place mother in an assisted living facility or skilled nursing.  I doubt she'll be able to live out her life at home.  At some point, her disease will demand even more care, care that can only be done by professionals in a facility that is set up for that.  And that will be a bummer.

I remember well when my ex-wife's grandfather had to go to skilled nursing because grandma could no longer take care of him at home, and they didn't want to bring help into the home.  So, despite his vigorous protestations, into the facility he went.  Every time we visited, he would cry and beg to go home.  It was heartbreaking.  So much so that his wife refused to visit him there, as did his granddaughter.  So he was even more alone than ever.  A vicious and cruel cycle.  We were there with him when he took his last breath, for all the good it did him.  I'm not sure he knew we were there.

He had a roommate who wailed continuously, and the poor gentleman had to sleep on a mattress on the floor because he kept falling out of bed.  It was a pitiful sight to witness.  Luckily, grandpa could turn off his hearing aids.

Why do people object so damned much to have loving care done in their home?  If you have the room for a live in person, I think it's selfish to send your ailing one away to a miserable and lonely room in a facility.  I'd rather make the adjustment to living with a caregiver.  My parents, however, have only very reluctantly let a care giver into their home for 3 days a week.  And then they don't use her to her full capacity.  They keep her at arm's length, she's "the help" and they are Lord and Lady of the Manor.  Frustrating and boring for her.  

This rejection of my parents by the retirement home hits me hard at a very deep level, for all the reasons I stated above.  I'm walking the line of being helpful but keeping my own needs in mind.  I did care giving for mom for 3 years recently, and it was always a struggle to get dad to give up any kind of control in his home.  Maybe he'll just need to come to his wit's end before he cries uncle and let's someone take over.  It also took a very big toll on my health.  I have been very healthy since moving out of their home and not having my life revolve around them.  I want to keep it that way.

This morning, my husband helped me set up Spotify on my cell phone.  It was a challenge for me and I lost my cool.  I took a chill pill, literally.  Then got back to wrestling with forgotten passwords and technical difficulties.  Finally, viola!  I put on a playlist called Happy Hits, plugged in the ol' earbuds and took Lucy for a little walk around the neighborhood.  Pharrell's "Happy" completely changed my mood to one of joy.  Thank you, Pharrell.  Thank you Steve. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Monday Musings

My friend Kathy provided me with the "blog fodder" for today's post.  Thanks Kathy.  (I know many Kathys, kind of like the on-going skit on Kids in the Hall.)

This JC Penny catalog opened a door in my mind.  By 1977 I had been out of the clutches of my parents for two whole years, and so was spared any more fashion torture, by my mother in particular.  But this is the kind of shit she used to love to dress me in, and JC Penny was indeed her "go to" fashion place.  The writer's take on the catalogue is priceless.  Read here.  I hated clothes shopping (what teenager doesn't) with her.  I didn't have a vote on her choices.  So I would pick the least offensive thing she would approve of. 

My mother was a prolific seamstress, and when I was very young I appreciated her artfulness.  As I grew into my pre teens, not so much.  It was the late sixties for chrissake, and anybody with any street cred did not wear polyester.  Ever.  Oh. Sure.  Plenty did.  But there were not cool.  The cool kids (ahem, myself) wore clothes purchased at the Good Will or the local exotic boutique with all things Indian.  My bedspread: Indian.  My clothes: made from Indian bedspreads.  My jewelry: sea shell necklace.  Hoop earrings.  I wish I had some photos.  Alas, I do not.  What I do have is me, all cleaned up for a portrait taken by my friend Topher.  I don't recall why I was having a portrait done, but I was all preppy (well, maybe not the blue jeans).  It may have been for my parents.  19 years old and I eschewed cosmetics (went through that phase in Junior High), styled hair and anything conventional.  I showed up at my job at the department store housewares department wearing Birkenstock sandals and was sent home.  I had a nice dress on, nylon stockings (required) and hippie shoes.  Did not go over well.

As I was preparing to graduate high school, my mother, because she is a pragmatic woman, made me a few outfits to send me out into the work world with.  All polyester (easy care, don't you know) and all hideous.  An outfit for interviews.  A work outfit.  A leisure thingy.  She put a lot of work into these concoctions and I felt guilty as hell because I hated them.  But I couldn't say 'no.'  She was on a mission.

I wonder why I had such an aversion to looking normal.  Well, wait, it was the 70s.  The days of disco and all the clothing to go with it.  Blech. And, I dunno, I was a Californian, I lived near the beach, I smoked pot, I drove around in junk cars.  I hung out at hippie dive restaurants and movie theaters.  I played folk music with my pals.  I took acid.  

But always, when I visited my parents, I dressed nice.  Preppy was my nice style.  Button down cotton shirts, crisp knee length skirts.  But still, the Birkenstocks.  My one nod to my real self.  In my effort to look normal for them, I grabbed onto the only style at the time that didn't make me want to throw-up.  

And of course, the shoe of choice for my kind.

Friday, August 12, 2016


Whhheeeeee.  Friday.

Tonight we celebrate with friends at Thunder Valley Casino.  We're seeing Steve Martin and Martin Short in concert (bluegrass).  I've already been on Google Maps looking at traffic and it's gonna be a bitch.  Friday traffic up to the Sierra, Tahoe, Reno, etc.  Everybody from all points southwest will jam the highway, and at 2 pm it's already happening.  I've got us taking an alternate route which, so far, looks clear.  Fingers crossed.

Daughter was finally able to announce her pregnancy and posted the cutest photo on Face book.  She's a nut, that one, and she doesn't let adult responsibilities stop her from having her fun.  Case in point, her new T-Shirt announcing her pregnancy says "Pregnant A F."  So, we assume it means Adult Female, right?  Nope.  She's adopted the saying from her high school kids and it goes like this "as fuck."  Apparently it can follow any declarative.  Happy As Fuck.  Sad As Fuck.  Whhhheeeeeee.

Old age.  I wouldn't know the latest lingo if it were not for my daughter.  Speaking of age, the mister and I are going to be joining a gym.  We will become Buff. As. Fuck.  Well, maybe.  Mostly we want to have adult play time and increase our strength and stamina.  We've still go a lot of years left in these bodies and wouldn't it be nice to feel as good as possible?  I know that my turning 60 next summer is driving it for me.  Ever damn decade I swear I'm going to start an exercise program.  Every one.  My exercise routines come in fits and starts.  Mostly I give up.

When I hear friends announce they were at the gym and had a great workout, I think, "That could be me.  I could be having a great workout."  Instead, I'm sitting in front of the computer for too damn long, almost every day.  Or sitting and reading.  Or lying in the hammock.   I'll keep up those rigorous routines (snicker) and throw in an hour of exercise to alleviate the guilt.  Who knows?  Maybe I'll grow to like it.  I have heard it said by many an athlete that you don't have to "like" it, just show up for it.  If you wait until you like it, you'll never do it.


Stay tuned.  Film at eleven.

I hope your weekend is wicked awesome AS FUCK.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

I'll Get There. Someday.

I am soooo easily distracted.  I vowed to straighten up the guest room/my office today.  On the way I

made coffee
emptied the dishwasher
watered the yard
fed the dogs
made breakfast
soaked in the hottub
got dressed
tried to nap
took my daily meds
played with photos on the computer

and then, then, I made it to the guest room where, in order to clean up I needed some good music.  So I got on Amazon, was told I needed to update my Firefox and Flashplayer, did that, searched for the music I wanted to buy (the new album by Neko Case, Laura Veirs and kd lang), purchased that with one-click, forgot all about playing music and why I'm actually here in this room.  (Remember to gather photos together for dad's book today.)  Then I realized why I am here, I was looking to play some music, some simple tunes, to boost my spirits while I straighten up this damn room.

So...what'll it be?  Going to go with my Genius Jazz mix.  Ok.  I'm going to go DO IT.  RIGHT NOW.

Right after I post this:

Friday, August 5, 2016


We've made it to another Friday.  Mostly by avoiding any news other than The News Hour, and by taking a lovely trip to the Napa Valley for a couple of days.  We stayed with friends, drank great wine, ate spectacular food, walked through beautiful country.  The air was cooler than what we are used to, and to say it was refreshing is a supreme understatement!

Today is our second wedding anniversary and we began the celebration by driving north to the Zinnia patch to cut flowers for ourselves and for gifting to a local retirement community.  That's the deal with this patch -- you can cut flowers for free.  You just need to share with someone who could really use your tender attention.  Everybody wins.  All are happy.  We brought them home, I cut some greenery from the yard and prepared some vases to deliver later today when we go out food shopping.  Don't you just love Zinnias?  The season is long, they last a long time after cutting, and they are some of the most cheerful looking blooms around.

Tonight we will dine at our favorite, Osteria Fasulo, and take an bottle of Zin Reserve we brought home from Chase Cellars this week.  Chase Cellars' vineyard has been in the family for a hundred years, in St. Helena, and is currently run by Katie.  Alisa was our gracious hostess and took us through the vineyard to taste grapes.  The vines are currently heavy with them.  They grow all their own grapes, and they have made a spectacular rose that is perfect for drinking right now.  They are a small enterprise, and a tasting there is not to be missed if you're in the area.  The family history is rich and it was a real pleasure to hear Alisa tell it.

We mused with our friends that being in the Napa Valley is an experience not unlike being in Provence, Italy or Spain.  Beautiful vistas, first class restaurants, fabulous wine.  And only a short drive away.  Every time we go there and dine, we come home exceedingly happy.  And the wine?  Did I mention the wine?  Stellar.

I would like to invite all my readers and friends to come for a visit some day.  We'll take you there.  You will love it.  Cheaper than Europe, for sure.  And maybe, just maybe, just as delightful.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Monday Musings (Our House)

Two years ago today we moved into our Home. La Maison du bonhuer, as I like to call it.

I have led somewhat of a nomadic life, some might even assume I was an Army brat.  But no, I was the child of a father who, himself, had a very nomadic life as a child, and that continued on through his early adult hood.  New firms to join, new jobs to do, graduate school, or just plain restlessness, we moved.  A lot.  I kind of enjoyed it because I liked making new friends and discovering new places.  I made the best of a stressful situation.

My college years, like many my age, involved moving from one rental to another, as time and circumstance pushed me out of one place to another.  Those were the days when possessions were few and backs were strong.

This nomadic norm continued through to my later adulthood, and, daughter in tow, we moved when we needed to.  Meanwhile, my parents had abandoned their back and forthing and settled into a beautiful prairie style home in San Diego, and stayed there for 40 years.  Always, of course, with remodeling going on.  A nomad's second best option.

There has been a great peace since moving here.  Yes, mostly due to my husband's love, but also because I feel I am home.  And a great home it is, perfectly suited to us.  It's a happy home, and we will find ourselves expressing our joy at random moments.  It's as if we just moved in and are looking around and, with great surprise, think, "We scored!"

I think we did, don't you?

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 ...