Monday, January 30, 2012

Dear Winter

Dear Winter,

      Last June I wrote a love letter to Summertime.  Then, in October, I wrote a letter to your sister Fall.   Surely, you remember Summertime and Fall?  Summertime is young and flighty and I love her dearly. Fall is a bit more tired but she has some really wise beauty about her.  You, Winter, are slow to reveal yourself to me or perhaps it is that I am I slow to see you?  Either way, I can see you now.

       The thing is, dear Winter, you are cold.  When you first send Fall on her way, you are bright, colorful, full of spirit and warmth and good cheer. But then something changes you. You turn more icy and edgy,  kinda cranky and, yes, cold.  In the interest of full disclosure, you need to know that for years - and I do mean years - the piece of you that was January was the darkest month of my year.  I counted with great impatience the days until the January piece would disappear and then I actively pushed February so she would move along faster.  I wanted to banish you, Winter,  from the planet.

You hang out in the Laguna with such tenacity.

                     And you can be found in cool patterns in the sand on the weather beaten shore.

You make interesting patterens in the dusting of snow too.

      I can't say that things have improved THAT much but I can say that I am appreciating your stark beauty more.  I can appreciate the simplicity that you are.  Your sister seasons are all full of bright, luscious, and distracting colors. Your colors can be distracting but they distract in a more startling sort of way.  Perhaps there is more contrast in your days or maybe I have learned to keep my eyes way wide open in order to see the simple beauty.  It is there. Now I know that.

     So here's the deal.  I will keep my eyes open to you because you do surprise me sometimes.  And you promise me that, from time to time, you will wow me with your silent cold beauty.  But don't get your feelings hurt when I start pining for Spring.  She has always been close to my heart and I miss her so much.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Uncle Frank

        A couple of years ago in  Holding Out For a Hero  I wrote about what it took to be a hero.  At that time,  I referenced Frank Schiavo as the real deal - a man who lived a life of integrity, humility, warmth, and passion.  This past week,  S. Stauss over at Periphery posted The Salad Days  In this wonderful piece she, without even knowing Frank, spoke of all the things that were his life.  The ironical thing is that she posted this on the 2nd anniversary of Frank's death.  Frank meant a great deal to me and was pivotal in my life.  His death came unexpectedly and way too soon.  I am missing him as much as ever this week.  Let me introduce you to Franko

     Frank Schiavo was born and raised in the Valley of the Heart's Delight.  This was how Silicon Valley (aka Santa Clara County, CA) was known in the 30's, 40's, and 50's.  This pocket of heaven is about 50 miles south of San Francisco and was blessed with ideal weather, perfect growing conditions for nature's bounty, and beautiful rolling hills and vistas.  Truly, it was the Valley of the Heart's Delight.  Eventually, the fruit and nut trees gave way to housing in the post World War II boon.  Agriculture was replaced with technology as the go to industry in the region and the name lost out to Silicon Valley as its regional moniker.

       By the late 1960's  Frank was teaching high school science in this community.  His core knowledge was in physics and chemistry and but his passion was in environmental sciences.  Frank didn't just teach this stuff though.  He lived it.  He was actually dubbed the "messiah of the environment" for being green before it was cool.  He taught at the high school level for 13 years and for 28 years at San Jose State in the Environmental Studies Department.  He readily admitted that the most rewarding part of his teaching experience was teaching over 1500 San Jose State students to become K - 8 environmental educators for the public school system.

     I was one of those 1500 college kids who came through his environmental ed for teachers classes back in the mid 70's.  Frank was the quintessential teacher.  He was smart and articulate and could bring the subject area to life in his classroom.  Beyond that, Frank was an inspirational human being.  He was full of warmth, kindness, and radiated humor and good will.  He had a unique personality - self deprecating and funny, scholarly and always a gentleman.    In his personal life, Frank lived the way he taught. He grew his own food, he designed and created a model solar house, and he took public transportation (or, for some outings, his restored propane powered 1964 Chevy Nova).  He always carried his hankie for a napkin, his own containers for bulk item purchase at the "health food stores" of the day or to carry home leftovers from lunches or dinners out.  He never used a clothes dryer.  He had both indoor and outdoor clothes lines placed in the most efficient area to dry his laundry. He composted in his front yard, washed dishes by hand, took short showers (his average PG&E bill was $11), and prided himself on not creating any garbage.  He made headlines in 1994 when he spared with the San Jose City Council after the city ruled that he had to pay a monthly garbage bill even though his house didn't generate any trash.  This man reduced, reused, recycled  everything.

       Frank cared very much about his friends but he was single most of his life.  I think that is largely because his passion about the environment was his life.  Most people want to be number one on their lover's life list.  Frank's sweetheart would always have had to settle for being number two.  Frank and I, however, enjoyed a wonderful sweetheart relationship in the late 70's.  He made me laugh and think and he told me I was beautiful.  We listened to Jackson Browne in the park and took lovely walks in the wilderness.  But I wasn't finished with adventures and he wanted to focus on his corner of the world so I went off to South America and he went back to SJSU.

     Two years later, Frank and I ran into each other in a local hippy dining spot.  It so happened that Frank was meeting his long time environmental educator friend, Mike, for dinner.  I was acquainted with Mike but hadn't seen him in a couple of years.  Frank and Mike and I started hanging out again.  One thing led to another and Mike and I were married about a year later.  The magic of Frank was present!  Frank was always about hooking his friends up and that's exactly what he did that night.  Of course, he was an honored guest at our very small wedding and, for years, he was an honored guest in our home.  Our children knew him as Uncle Frank and they loved him in the way that children naturally love good people.

    Frank died of a sudden heart attack.  I think he just cared too much about the Earth, about his friends, about the future. He certainly practiced what he preached and his was the epitome of a truly simple life.  Not many people will be able to follow the minimalist lifestyle he followed but we can learn from his example.  His life showed that such a life is possible.

      I loved Frank very much. As a physicist, Frank knew that energy is never created or destroyed.  It is only transformed from one state to another.  His body has returned to the earth and his spirit and legacy live on.  Thank you, Frank.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Finally Caving

       I am amazingly and pathetically sick today.  What a drag it is!  My typical pattern in the relatively rare times when my immune system fails me is to simply deny the failure.  I take whatever over the counter meds might mask the symptoms and I go on.  That's exactly what I did this whole week.  And that leads me to Saturday where I can finally cave and just be sick.  Still taking over the counter drugs mind you but at least putting my hands up in surrender and going into the jail.

     To be honest, I did kind of amaze myself this week.  First, I had the jury summons hanging over my head all week.  Every evening (Sunday through Thursday) I went on line and checked the County Court's webpage, afraid to see what numbers needed to report the next day.  Honestly I would not have minded so much having to report to the courthouse except that a) second trimester progress reports needed to be collected, collated, and mailed out by Friday  b) The third trimester schedule needed to be inputted into the computer so I would have enough time to place all 300+ students into classes by the end of February and c), oh yeah, the principal / superintendent was out of town all week at an educational conference.  I am the de facto principal when she is not here and, if I were at jury duty, I think my office staff might have just  walked out en masse.   So, in some previous life somewhere I must have done something good (remember as in Sound of Music?) because the jury gods decided to spare me for this round.  I can rest (on the county level anyway) for a year.

    I did manage to get all the progress reports done AND the schedule inputed in between the myriad of other tasks and obligations I fulfill.  Sadly, on Thursday, I received a concern from a student about other students having alcohol on campus.  Although I suspected adolescent fake bravado to be the source, I was  obligated to follow up.  In the end, I suspended seven students for consuming and/or distributing alcohol on campus.  One student was cited by the police department for public intoxication (he was 2 times the legal limit).  That whole process meant interviewing more than a dozen kids, talking to all seven students' parents, both on the phone to give them the news and then more in depth when they arrived to pick up their children.  I also had to talk to my peeps at the police department.  I wanted the student who was clearly inebriated to be cited because it is the best way to get him help (the others had only sipped).  He will be required to appear in juvenile court and likely part of his sentence will include some kind of substance abuse counseling.  He is only 12 years old.

     The toughest part of that alcohol incident is my own frustration around education and prevention.  I enjoy my near daily glass of wine but I am an adult and I enjoy it responsibly.  I am passionate about the need for education around alcohol and drug use with adolescents.  However,  you can talk a blue streak to a 13 year old but the need to be seen as cool, to fit in, is huge.  Additionally the code of silence  will not allow students to divulge who might be engaging in risky behaviors and so kids end up in trouble.  I need to know how to bridge this stuff.

     And this brings me back to this morning.  I really don't get sick very often but I know this is the real deal.  Probably some bronchitis or pneumonia going on but now I can stop my life for TWO WHOLE DAYS and focus on recovery.  I focus best by being alone and entertaining myself with my solitary pursuits.  Markie tells me to go get some Gypsy Cold Care Tea so I might go down to Whole Foods later and do that.  For now, I have my hot mint tea, my books, and my window on the world (both the real one that looks out on the neighborhood and the window contained within MacHenry).  I am a happy, albeit sick, camper.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bury Me In Sand

Can YOU hear the roar in my ears?
It is loud and windy,
like the ocean.
Give me a beach to walk
right now.
Cover up this roar in my ears
with real waves.
Make waves fall over me.
Crash and bang and drown.

Bury me in sand
and wind
and waves.
Give me the moment.
Teach me to be.
Teach me not to care.

I can hear that roar.
I can feel the coldness.
I can touch the dark sky
and feel the pinprick of stars
hidden behind clouds,
protecting and embracing.
Lose me in rocks
and endless sand.
Bury me where the salt water
plays the shovel.
Take me to this place
where I can just be.

And leave me alone.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

For Mama

  My mother recently moved for the winter to an apartment in town. It's a lovely one bedroom in a quiet area and all things are perfect.  Except that the walls are bare.  Now, I am not sure my mother really minds the bare walls.  She fills her days with jigsaw puzzles, computer work, reading, crossword puzzles and all sorts of communication and mentally engaging activities.  But that was the first thing I noticed when I went to help her unpack. The walls were empty.

The next time I went up to see her, I brought her one of my paintings.  It was bright, colorful and abstract.  Very abstract.

     My mother is wonderful.  She wants to support her kids in whatever their pursuits are.  She has listened to more fledgling musicians, has read more original poetry and/or other written pieces, has ooh-ed and aw-ed more homemade gifts and sewing project than you can shake a stick at.  So, when I brought her my abstract brightness, she tried.  She really did. But I am no dummy. I could see by her questioning face that she wasn't really sure WHAT this was I had painted.  And knowing WHAT it was seemed important.  So, I very quickly said something along the lines of, "Oh, wait, I have a better idea.  How about I bring several up and you can choose the one that YOU like.  I brought this one because I like it a lot and it is bright and sunny but I can bring several and you can choose."  Her smile and laugh while nodding her head confirmed that this was probably the right idea.

    Okay, so here's the problem.  My paintings don't come out of realism.  I didn't have any that I could take up to her.  I decided that I would have to do my best and create something she could read.  My mother has always had a flower garden. I decided that I would give flowers a go.  I loved playing with backgrounds and the colors and trying some different combinations.  What you see below are the four finalists.  Remember, the photos cannot show the real painting.  You cannot see the fine points nor the texture.  The lighting is not the best either.  Paintings are always so much more alive in person.

    When I told her I would bring some paintings back, Mama said, "Oh, don't paint just for me.  That wouldn't be right.  Paint what YOU want to paint.  It's not the same if you paint something that you are trying to paint for me.  You have to paint what you want to paint."  I got what she was saying but I think I proved her wrong.  I painted something that she might like yet I still had fun.  They are not my favorite of all time paintings, for sure, but they were fun to paint.  It was sweet to paint with Mama in mind and to still play with colors and textures.  I would have gone more abstracty but I wanted her to like them too.   Do you think she will?

Oh, and just for fun, I am including this one because , oh I don't know, I like it?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Can You Hear?

If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud. 

     First, do you know GOODREADS?  This website  is a very cool place where you can read about books.  You can discover what's new and you can read reviews about both new material and old standbys.  Individuals can share the books they've read and get recommendations for books that they might enjoy based on what they have read and enjoyed.  I have a profile there with a handful of books I have read but I have not taken the time to use the site well. There are so many things you can explore and do there.

       My favorite part of Goodreads is the quote library.  This LARGE collection of quotes is organized by tags and the topics are many.  Additionally, you can create your own list of favorites and that is my favorite part.  I spent a lot of time last summer just reading thorough the short words of others and setting some aside in a favorites folder.  Well, okay, 630 are saved in my favorites folder but that's still "some".  Besides being able to store words that matter to you, you can also subscribe to a daily quote delivered to your email inbox.  And that brings me to the words above.....

      This comment from Zola showed up my Goodreads email the other day. It's not the first time I have read it yet, just as in every other time I have seen it, it caused me to pause.  There is something very attractive about these words.  I know that the quote is translated from the original French and so may have been altered somewhat in that process but, even so, it gives me reason to reflect.

        Artist or no artist, I like the idea of living out loud.  I have just a whimper of what those three words might mean but they do motivate me.  "Living out loud" suggests that I will tell the secrets in my head.  I will tell the secrets in words and in paint and sometimes with a camera.  I can share the words, colors, textures, and images  but they don't have to be shared.  I can say them.  I can live out loud. I may or may not be understood but I can be heard.  And living out loud is not necessarily about living loudly.  One can live out loud with whispers.

      Living out loud takes courage.  When scared or discouraged, I would prefer to hide. I would rather disappear.  I imagine going away and being in silence.  Regrouping, renewing, recharging - call it whatever you want but that time is marked by silence.   And when the time is right, I emerge and live out loud again, taking chances on telling my secrets.
 Can you hear my secrets?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Be Curious

     About a year ago I wrote a post about surprises.  The gist of that piece was that there is a season for everything and maybe surprises only come early in life.  Good surprises, that is.  Bad surprises come all the time but the stuff that influences the path in a positive and life changing way seems to happen in the first two thirds of life.  When I wrote about the humdrum of grownup life,  I was mired in the middle of malaise.  No where to go but to work and to the couch.  At work, I had to be on my game, the one who could/would make decisions and take care of everyone and their issues.  The couch was made more comfortable by drugs of choice (books, writing, thinking and an evening glass of wine) but all that work and the couch were not changing anything.  No surprises.  No novelty to life.

    I'm not saying it's a whole lot different now.  I still find it hard to believe that something good could surprise me at this point.  Too many people say to me, "Wait until you have grandchildren.  They are the best surprise you can imagine."  First, I assure you, I am in NO rush to have grandchildren.  It's okay if they never show up but I also don't want my kids becoming parents anytime in the next five years.  They need more time to figure out who they are before they become parents.  There have been changes in my work world but those have been a blend of fun (the addition of small children to the campus) and painful (the loss of my partner in crime).  Life among family members hasn't varied too dramatically - except for Mark's fantastic re-emergence.   In other words, life seems to be rolling along and I am still looking for passion, adventure, and a little weirdness.

     Just recently, however, I find some piece of hope happening.  I am learning to draw a box around some moments and then just stand outside the box and be curious.  I don't know what to expect while watching the box but perhaps there is transformation on the horizon.  One can only be curious.

I was in Times Square a couple of years ago and could not ignore this marquee for a Eugene O'Neill production.....

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Give me space .

I find myself wishing often for room to just be.
No explanations, no forced conversations.
I am too warm.  I am too cold.
I am too much of everything.
Too irritable.  Too lonely.
Too busy.  Too tired

Mostly, too tired.

Leave me alone.
Me alone.

Let me
Be silent.
Be alone.
Be in my own world.

It is a funky world
but I know me there.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Silly Thing, Yes?

       I love you.  Growing up as s child in the 50's and 60's, I don't recall those specific words being used in our house.  I could be wrong but I doubt it. I don't think that the white, northern European cultures gave in to that sort of sentiment.  I don't know if I am right about that but it would have been out of character in my family to have heard those words.  That certainly doesn't mean that love wasn't the dominant force in the household.  It was.  It was simply demonstrated through actions (which were not always perceived as loving but they were) rather than words.

      The first time I can remember specifically hearing those words was on January 8th, 1972.  I was taking an evening walk on a SoCal beach with my then boyfriend.  We'd been dating less than a month and believe me, I was shocked when the L word was dropped on the sand that night.  I remember being so shocked that I didn't know what to say so I said nothing.  Over the following week, the boyfriend dropped the word several times and, sure enough, by the next weekend, I got on board that train.  That train then pulled out of the station and we were married a year later.  And divorced within three years..... but that is another post.

     Over the next 8 to 10 years, I became more personally comfortable with those three words.   There were at least five other boyfriends with whom I freely and happily exchanged those words.  The exchange didn't have to lead to marriage and that was not what I was necessarily looking for anyway.  My definition of love had become much broader.  I didn't have to withhold that word. I had discovered the warmth and goodness that comes with expressions of love and I was no longer shocked to hear or say strong words of affection.

      "I love you" still wasn't a common expression in my family but I will never forget the one and only time I heard those words from my dad.  It was late December of 1982 and I was up at the family home in Nor Cal.  I had brought home with me the love of my life and clearly my dad was happy with my choice.  The L of my L and I were planning a spring wedding and Papa was happy to know that I had sorted out the earlier mistakes of my life.  Papa was forever hopeful about having grandchildren and this man, he could tell, was going to be good for me.  As sleeping bags were being thrown on the living room floor and visitors to the 'rents home were settling in for the night,  Papa came around checking in with the Love and me.  After being assured that we had everything we needed, he hugged me and whispered those three words: "I love you."  I was shocked again but this time my reaction was immediate.  "I love you, too," I whispered back with unbelievably shiny eyes.

      The Love and I were married in April of 1983 and Sonny Boy and his sister were born 2 and 4 years later.  From the get go, those children heard TONS of I love yous.  I would say they were showered in those words and they naturally gave them back.  For me, my 20's opened the doors to that kind of language and it has become easy for me to let the words tumble out.  I comfortably tell my siblings that I love them.  I  jubilantly tell my best girlfriends the same thing.  My children will never NOT hear those words from me.  Such a silly thing but it matters, yes?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Getting Away Whille the Getting is Good

There is a war going on in my head.
The wants have gone to battle with the must do's.
The shoulds and the who the hell do you think you are soldiers are falling on the south forty.
The wannabes and the real me's want to seize my day.
I have to disappear before they capture me.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Chapters One, Two, and Three

Chapter One.

Head spinning.
First day back at work after 18 glorious days of rest.
An 8th grader responded to my "How was vacation ?" question with a smile as wide as a beach.
Her response?  "Awesome!  A lot of lazy days!"
Perfect answer.
I could relate.

Chapter Two

Are there regrets?
That has been edging in from the side of my brain all day.
It came from a post I read at 4:15 this morning and it hasn't gone away yet.
Are there things in life that I wish I would have done differently?
I responded to the blog poster  (who is one remarkable writer) that, yes, there are things I would do MORE of
Would I do things differently?
The jury is still out.
Too soon really to know for sure.
One thing I do know:
I want to be bigger in life.

Chapter Three

How do you spend money?
There is only so much discretionary income.
There was a time in my life when I was all about experiences.
Spend money on doing, not on things.
I bought education and days in Asia,  Europe, South America.
What changed?
Now I hesitate to spend $6,000 on a two week adventure - not a cruise but an independent adventure
to Alaska next summer.
Airfare, lodging, incidentals for two weeks for two people = 6000 big ones.

Isn't that what you are supposed to do?
The culture says travel.
Go, see the world.
Hell, I want to see my OWN world.

I hate this
What the hell is wrong with me?
Why do I NOT chomp at the bit to get out there and TRAVEL like other people do?
I like learning new people, places, and things.
I do NOT like planning trips.
Someone else take care of the details, please.

I do not have ton of money.
I DO like eating out on Friday evenings. cha ching
I DO like buying books and ipads, massages and boots.  cha ching
I want to retire.  cha ching
And I have kids in college. cha ching

Why can't I be okay with me if
I want to stay home?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Six Word Memoirs

     Several years ago I discovered a project sponsored by  Smith Magazine and  dubbed "Six Word Memoirs".  The first collection is entitled "Not Quite What I Was Planning".  Get it?  Six words communicating the gist of the message.  There are so many short thoughts that convey so much.  Some are funny, some are philosophical, a few are inspiring, many are poignant.  I have too many favorites but here are a few:

"Still lost on the road less traveled."

"Followed rules. Not dreams. Never again."

"Used to add.  Now I subtract."

         Later the project came out with another book,  "It All Changed In An Instant." Again the magazine solicited six word memoirs that could tell the story of people's lives.  The collection offers a mix of both well known and obscure writers' words.   A few favorites include:

"The miserable childhood leads to royalties."  (Frank McCourt)

"Said I walked into wall.  Lied."

Married young.  Discovered dating soon afterwards."

      Today I spent a chunk of the day immersed in yet another
of the Six Word Memoir projects.  This is entitled "The Moment" and is fascinating and quick reading. These are short blips that tell so much,  Generally, the focus is a life changing moment.  The story telling is real.  The moment is clear and tenable.  The stories are told with humor, inspiration, poignancy, immediacy, and truth.   It reminds me of the  blogging community.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Noise in my Head

      There is something to be said for just being.  It is so not in my nature to just be.  I must always be productive and that has got to stop.  I hate it.  The younger me found it valuable, I suppose.  At least it got me something.  Now I think productivity mostly gets me headaches.

     This afternoon I had the house to myself.  Completely and entirely to myself.  I wrapped my ears in headphones and put on a playlist I made about a year ago.  This one is called "Pretty Lies" and the lead song is - what else? - Pretty Lies by Joni Mitchell.  The songs on the list are primarily reflective:  some Van Morrison, some Dire Straits, a Joe Cocker tune, several CSN&Y pieces, and others.  I wanted to stare out the front window and think.  Or not think.  I wanted to feel.  I wanted to vanish.  I wanted to find out what the voices were saying to me today.

     The problem is that the LOUDEST voice in the crowd gets all my attention.  He is overpowering and scary.  When he talks I  can't hear anything else.  Those soft thoughtful voices become silent because they know he will win.  They know I can't hear them and they simply go silent.  Why even present themselves? The funny voices stop laughing because they know the loud guy can't laugh. As a matter of fact, the funny voices leave town.  Bye bye.  When the LOUDEST voice speaks, I have to get up and do something productive.  I HAVE TO.

    Stupid voices.  They make so much noise in my head.  Maybe that's why I have a headache most of the time.

Friday, January 6, 2012


     Our 24 year old daughter is one of those boomerang kids.  Meg went to college but somewhere shortly before turning 23, she moved back home (sort of).  The tuition and the cost of living away from home were just too much.  I say (sort of) because we have a studio cottage on our property.  It is a cute little place - sunny, clean, and, oh did I mention small?  As in tiny?  As in maybe 20' x 20' , including the kitchenette space and the bathroom?  Meg has her space out there and it is terrific.  She used a lot of elbow grease when she first moved back to clean it up. Then she and her dad painted the whole studio (all 400 square feet of it), and dad replaced the old windows with dual pane windows, replaced the funky tiny old frig with a cool (literally) new one, and replaced both wall heaters with functioning and energy efficient models.

    Meg can come and go as she pleases.  She also can come in and out of the "big house" whenever she wants.  She is wonderfully cognizant, however, that her dad and I have grown accustomed to living sans kids and she is respectful of our privacy and our space.  Her once upon a time bedroom in the house has been converted to a guest room (primarily used by her brother)/office space for me/gallery space (again, for me).

     When Meg initially moved out to go to college, I will admit to (silent) rejoicing.  Her adolescent years were, shall we say, challenging for everyone.  Although she was welcome to stay at home and go to the local community college, I was ready for her to go be independent somewhere else.  But nearly five years of independence can certainly make a difference in how you view the world and what you might appreciate about what you have.  When Meg asked us about our long standing offer to live in the cottage (as in, could she take us up on our offer?) I was willing but admittedly somewhat hesitant, given the challenges when she left (and a few in between).

     I am happy to report that this has proven to be a win/win situation.  Meg has had a safe, comfortable, and cheap place to live while she finished up her BA and got started in the work world.  We have had our moments (generally where someone had unspoken expectations) but, overall, she has been fun to have around.  We check in often (minimally several times a day, via text, phone, or in person) and she frequently has dinner with us.  She is smart and stylin' and does me the biggest favor by laying out my work outfits - a week at a time.  She takes me shopping (okay, so I carry most of the money) and has encouraged me to stay culturally current.  She and her brother are my biggest painting fans and she always has opinions on how I should do things.  She is often right!  She has a terrific sense of humor and is very open and fun about her dating adventures.  She chooses friends well and I am constantly being amazed at how much knowledge she has of EVERYTHING.

     So here's the rub.  Meg is moving out.  WAAAAAAAAAAA!  I have to be careful lest she think I will fall apart when she leaves but I will miss her.  I will miss her laughter, her spark, her fashion instruction and advice for living.  She is not moving far and we will still text and talk on the phone routinely.  She will likely be about 30 minutes away but she will no longer be a daily presence in my home life.  Unlike the last time when she left, I am happy to have her for our neighbor.  But she wants to get back into a house with several other 20 something year olds and that makes sense.  I salute and encourage her growth even as I wave goodbye.  But that's not until next month so I will enjoy her while I can.      

    Meg, shall we make CCC's?  (aka chocolate chip cookies for the uninitiated).

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Just Pretend

        I live in the so called wine country of Northern California.  My town used to be surrounded by apple orchards but the winery owners have taken over the county.  Where once there were acres and acres of apple orchards, now there are rows and rows, hillsides and hillsides of vineyards.  I have reservations about this change in the local agricultural economy.  The main concern is that the grapes requre more water than the apples did and so the water table is gradually being depleted.  Not good for the long run.  What will the farmers do in 30 years?  The short sightedness of land owners and growers is beyond me.

     Okay, now that the disclaimer is out of the way, I will add that I do enjoy wine. These days my preferences lie with the reds - pinot noir or petite syrah - but I am not -  AM NOT - a wine snob.  As a 20 something year old, I enjoyed going wine tasting and learning about the wines but close to the end of that decade I got married .  Michael does not drink anything ("I don't like the taste of wine", he says but I don't think he's given it a try).  I do like the taste and I like the feel of wine.

    I know many people have issues with alcohol,  It is my firm belief that my dad was an alcoholic and I know I need to be aware of that.  But I must say that an evening glass of wine goes a long way towards making my life doable.  I go to work all day, come home, take care of chores, but always look forward to my glass of wine with dinner.  On Friday nights, we often go to a little place here in town where everyone knows our names and then I might have two glasses of wine.

     Yes, I savor the taste but I also appreciate the slight change in perspective and attitude that the wine will induce.  I will be very clear here:  I NEVER - repeat NEVER - have a glass of wine and drive,  Nor do I have a glass of wine when I have to attend a school related function.  If I am planning on being in for the evening, a glass of wine can take the edge off an otherwise disappointing and/or difficult day.  I have always been hard on myself.  I have always been intense and I have generally needed to the best at whatever I do.  In my doddering old age, I am finding that a nightcap at the end of the day allows me to be kinder to myself.  It sometimes allows me to feel something that I couldn't (or didn't want to) feel before.  A glass of wine is an appropriate filter on the day.  I keep it together all day.  I work hard and I am uber responsible.  i just, sometimes, want to forget all that.  I want the glass of wine to sail me away to a place where I can be fragile, vulnerable, and not strong.  I want a glass of wine sometimes to carry me away to a place where I can laugh and just pretend that it is not a sucky world after all.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Walk in the Park

        I'm still enamored with details.  It was easy, so easy, to get captured by them on today's early morning walk.  I left around 6:30, noticing immediately the deep blue blanket of sky.  The trees in the neighborhood were stark naked and their black bone-like branches appearred to be silently sleeping.


   Part of my route takes me through the city park.  I am caught by the empty playground.  The primary colors of the playground  bring to memory swings, sandboxes and little shoes.  The park is eerily empty.  The shining light and rising steam from the outdoor pool area only make me shiver.

       The path over to the baseball diamond is littered with leaves.  The eeriness of the playground finds its cousin at the baseball diamond and spider webs only add to the early morning magic.  The sun has now kicked the deep blue blanket off.   He is content with the light blue/gray sheets.  The day suggests that it is time to rise and shine and so he does.