June 2012 Archives


I feel like cooking this weekend.  Maybe Sunday.  Want to make this.  And this.  And definitely this to drink.  And, if my smoker gets delivered in time, maybe I can make this.  

Tomorrow Scuba and I are going to check out a house for rent that has four bedrooms, a living room AND a family room, and a teeny little gated pool in the backyard.  It's not far from here at all.  It's actually nearly directly in the path that I used to walk to elementary school, near where the orchard we'd cut through used to be. It wasn't shorter to go through the orchard, but it was more fun to risk getting caught and chased out.  With four bedrooms, I'd have an actual office instead of an office in my bedroom.  That would be really lovely, as it would bring separation of church and state to my work and home life.  I could shut the door all day Sunday, for example.

So, you know, if that works out I will probably be cleaning out the garage and ordering out on Sunday instead of cooking.  Here's hopin.    

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Instagram of a Polaroid. PX 680 Cool film from the-impossible-project.com

Another morning of 6 a.m. yoga, and today I didn't even need an alarm to get up a little after 5.  I am sore all over, especially my arms and shoulders, but it feels good.  Might even fit in a short hike tonight with Scuba.  I cannot wait to sleep in and be lazy on Sunday.

I really have nothin today.  

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Now that I've done it two whole days in a row, getting up at 5:15 to go to a 6 a.m. yoga class doesn't seem all that horrible.  If I can stick to my plan, I'll be able to go nearly every weekday morning until school starts again toward the end of August.  It's hard work, reminding this body of mine about flexibility and strength after not doing much of anything physical this whole entire year and having a couple of surgeries.  This morning I made the fatal error of looking at myself head-on in the mirror while in puppy pose.  I have had four kids and I'm over 40, so I will be kind to myself and say that I am rockin some voluptuous curvy hips in relation to the rest of my five foot and three quarters of an inch frame.

I had to ground one of my kids until next Monday.  I wasn't ever really grounded as a kid, and I've not used that punishment much at all with my kids either.  Until it occurred to me that I wasn't grounded because I was exceptionally well-behaved (heh) and didn't earn any punishments like that.  My children, on the other hand, are more bold than I ever was.  It's always the mouth that gets them into trouble.  In this case, the trouble was mouthing off, LOUDLY, about the neighbor, while basically standing right outside his open bedroom window where he happened to be.  I'm horrified, and am so dreading seeing him ever, ever again.  And, I know he heard, because I heard him talking about it with his girlfriend at 1 a.m. through the open window.  (So, Jen, why don't you BLOG about it and maybe he'll somehow stumble upon THAT?  Cause that wouldn't make things more awkward at all!)  I know my kid *knows* better and what happened happened because he was showing off to his friends, but, honestly -- who stands outside someone's house and talks in a loud voice about how they think that person is having a midlife crisis because of the automobile they drive, and then talks even more inappropriate smack?  My kid.  My kid who's gonna spend the rest of this week cleaning, that's who.  

**Updated to add:  Now he's standing outside with his friends talking about how unfair it is that I grounded him, not realizing that I can hear him.  You know who else can hear if he's home.  The neighbor.  :)


The Seaswings at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.  Polaroid One Step, Impossible Project PX 680 Cool shade film.  

I got my first Polaroid in probably 1976.  It was this one.  I've only got a dozen or so of the photos I took with it, and the camera seems to be gone.  I thought I knew where it was, but I finally gave up looking.  

Last year Kim gave me a Polaroid One Step and Andrea gave me some Impossible Project film.  And I took some really awful photos.  Bad, bad photos.  And one that I liked.  I decided to hang in there and things slowly improved.  

After our epic hike on Saturday, followed by a handful of ibuprofen washed down with a margarita on the patio of a restaurant in Carmel Valley, Scuba and I went to The Boardwalk, all by ourselves.  Dude, it was so much fun.  We rode the Giant Dipper after all the lights came on but just before the sun was all the way down.  We went on the ferris wheel and the log ride, and rode the little car through the Haunted House.  I brought the One Step along in my purse, and stood under The Seaswings as the sun was going down and ended up with the image above.  I can't get a good scan of it, and what's above is taken with my phone.  But the real thing, the photo sitting propped up against a picture frame on my desk?  Is making me loopy happy, like endorphins pumping and everything.  The happiness is coming partly from the image and partly from the kickass day that it came from.  Last Saturday is my new happy place.  You know?  The place you can go visit in your mind when the place you are is awful.  And I've got a photo in case I ever start to forget it.         

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Wildflowers + Pacific

Saturday morning we left our hotel room in Pacific Grove around 9 or 9:30 and drove down Highway 1 to Garrapata State Park so that we could go for a hike.  We hiked the trail in the opposite way of the description, so where you read descriptions like "brutally steep climb," "even steeper descent," or "insanely steep descent," those were brutally steep descents, even steeper descents, and insanely steep climbs for us.  The part about "lots of poison oak" still applied.  

Yeah.  Luckily we didn't read that description first or look at the distance (8 miles) or we might not have ever ended up walking at the top of a hill covered in wildflowers above the Pacific, looking to the north at Monterey Bay.  It was indescribably beautiful.  I tried taking a few photos with my phone, but of course they don't capture the depth of what we could see.  

Hiking above the Pacific Coast Highway on a perfect day

Those rocks in the ocean below?  Are very, very big.  They only look tiny because they are so far away.  

The part of the trail leading out of the redwood grove (or in to it, if you don't start by hiking into the canyon like we did) was so steep, we ended up turning back, deciding that instead of hiking to the top of the hill, we'd go back the way we came.  And it wasn't just us; we overheard a man tell his wife, "This isn't hiking, it's MOUNTAIN CLIMBING."  So we were back in the redwood grove, resting, enjoying the strawberries and cucumber-infused water that Scuba had packed for us, when we started pumping people for information.  Two very young, very fit girls told us we only had another half hour to the top, and someone else said that a quarter of the way down after we reached the top there was this bench with great views.  We didn't want to miss it being so close, so up we went again, out of the redwood grove.  There used to be wooden stairs to help on this part, but they're mostly washed away so that in places there's just leftover rebar, waiting for someone to impale themselves on it.  If you go, you'll want to be careful is what I'm saying.  I thought it couldn't get much more steep, because honestly, how could it?  Then another young, fit jogger ran past us and said, "Hoy!  Now for the steep bit!"

We went anyway.  

Every so often we'd stop to rest, looking out at the ocean once we were high enough to see it behind us but not high enough for the second ocean view at the top.


There must've been twenty or more kinds of wildflowers, all blooming and incredible.  We saw deer and lizards, we looked down on red-tailed hawks hunting.  There were swallows that were really fun to watch, lots of bees, a couple of bumblebees, and what I think were hornets, but we didn't realize that's what that high pitched buzzing whine probably was at the time.  We just called them insects.  

We were really tired when we got to the top, but happy.  It was a perfect day, we were out in it, literally on top of it.  It was awesome.

And then we started down.

I have had for a few years this thing where my knee will hurt pretty badly when I'm walking down stairs.  It's uncomfortable.  And, it also, turns out, hurts me when I'm trying to walk downhill.  Like, say, down an "insanely steep descent."  I could barely walk for trying to find a way to do it that didn't hurt.  We went so so slowly, me alternating between not bending my knees and sort of plie-walking and keeping them both slightly bent.  At one point, runners passed me and I was all, What the hell?  I'll try that.  So I ran, too, and the first three times I put my foot down I was okay.  Then my knees exploded and I had to stop doing that. 

Before too long I was crying.  Actually crying because it hurt so damn badly.  Finally, after a really long time, I ended up walking backwards, Scuba holding my hand and leading me, relieved we'd found a way to get me off the mountain that didn't involve him carrying me.  The minute things leveled out and we quit going downhill my knees felt nearly entirely better.  The 8 mile walk that takes some people two hours (according to their Yelp reviews, but I think they're lying showoffs) took us five.  Five hours!  But, some of the best five hours I've ever spent, so I'm okay that we didn't finish in two.  

We walked up the shoulder of Highway 1 and back to the car.  We sat on a fallen log in the shade and had our lunch (which Scuba had also packed) and water.  Lots and lots more water.  We wanted to go down further south, to Big Sur, where we could sit in the river in an Adirondack chair and have a beer while soaking our throbbing feet in the water, but south was away from home, so we headed to Carmel Valley for a margarita, stopping on the way for Advil gelcaps.  

I am so sore I can hardly get around, but I can't wait to go back and do it again.  As soon as I call my doctor about these knees and see how to fix them.  
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A hot Meyer lemon, picked off the tree three minutes ago & fresh strawberries in my backyard. Cause it's a hundred degree day and I love summer.

That might look like cut up oranges and sliced strawberries, but really it's a cut up lemon and sliced strawberries.  And I ate it and it was incredibly good.  Last week it was up over a hundred degrees a couple of days in a row.  One of those days at suppertime I walked out to the Meyer lemon tree to see if there were enough lemons to start making this.  Still working on it, but I did pick an enormous lemon that was perfectly ripe and decided to have it with strawberries.  Meyer lemons are always good, but they are heavenly when they've been baking in the sun all day long and you eat them still hot.  I'm getting weepy just remembering it.

The day before Sophie's birthday earlier this month was her last soccer game and also my turn to bring snacks.  We had mini cupcakes for after the game, and for halftime I brought a ton of oranges and strawberries, more than the girls could possibly eat, even though I brought less than I was tempted to.  

That night we had a family dinner for Soph, and Scuba and I decided to put all those strawberries and cut up oranges to work in a few pitchers of sangria.  So here's what we were calling Soccer Mom Sangria:

  • Bottle of red wine that you are comfortable mixing with other things (some people use nice wine, some use crap, we went down the middle)
  • A couple few cans of Aranciata and Limonata, enough till you've got the ratio you want 
  • Your giant ziplock bag of precut oranges
  • Leftover strawberries, slice those up
  • Peaches or nectarines, if you got em
This came out really good.  I snuck tiny shots of rye into mine and that made it even better.

Scuba and I are doing a kind of local mini vacation this weekend and I cannot wait to kick it off.  Happy Friday. 

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Late last night sometime during the crazy packing up for the girls to go to Disneyland with their Girl Scout troop, the moment of the one year anniversary of your death slipped by without me noticing.  

I'm sure you'd much rather have me get the girls ready for their trip than sit and cry from missing you, but still, I can't help but feel bad that I didn't stop and do something.  What?  I don't even know.  

I've been thinking about death constantly this past year, something that I've sidestepped all my life.  I think I have finally settled on some kind of idea about it that I can sort of wrap my brain around, about what might happen.  You wouldn't think I'm a practical person, but one thing I do is look at how things around me work in order to get an idea of how things I don't understand might work.  I tend to look to nature for clues.  

I've seen people who have had their personality altered by medication, by addiction, by brain diseases, by hormone imbalances, by old age.  There's a man I know who right now is in the late stages of Alzheimer's.  He isn't who he was because his brain isn't like it was.  So that's one piece of information I'm going on.  Another, a more hopeful one, is a law of physics that I might be misinterpreting (and I wish that you could help me understand*).  It's the law of conservation of energy.  My understanding of it is that energy (like, for example, the electricity that makes our brains work) cannot be created or destroyed.  Other things I've folded into my thinking are: the water cycle; the flower cycle; butterflies; my very strong opinion that creatures like the chambered nautilus, which has (I think) been in existence longer than humans have been, have no idea that humans exist, even though people have their shells sitting out on display around their houses.

I wish that I believed that when I die I'll see you again and we will each be ourselves and we will sit on the floor and talk and drink beer and have a big cutting board with those buttery crackers and salami and the best cheese, a football game we're not really watching on TV in the background.  But that doesn't fit for me.  All around me I see things on a loop.  Seed, plant, flower, seed, plant, flower.  I don't think we build up all this momentum to stop and be suspended for eternity.  I think that there's something in us, call it energy or a spark or a soul, that leaves our bodies when we die.  I don't think it's necessarily a separate, contained thing.  I don't think it's us distilled at our very best.  I think it's an ingredient in the universe, and I think it gets mixed back in to make more things.  I also think that I don't have the ability to even begin to imagine what all that means, just like the goldfish in my living room would never guess that there is an entire industry employing lots and lots of people all around the world to make the food I give them each morning.  

I'd like to think that we get to gather experience and information as we travel on whatever cycle or path we're on.  I'd like to think that when I die, I'll bring the vital parts of this life with me and that when my energy meets your energy, something amazing will happen.  I don't think that's impossible, I just hope it's true.  

I cannot express how very much I miss you.  I think about you when I listen to the radio and when I look at my kids.  I think about you when I'm cooking and when it's raining.  I didn't realize how many memories I have of you and how connected you are to so many everyday things in my life until I started living those days without you and was reminded of you all day long.  

I am so lucky to be your daughter.  So lucky.  The kids and I talk about you often, and even though I misremember practically every story I ever tell, I tell them stories about you.  And maybe that's what heaven is, just being remembered and loved.  I wish we'd had more time together, and I wish that you'd had more time to do the things you wanted to.  You know how you always stayed up late so that you could stay in the conversation or card game or whatever action was happening?  That's really bothering me, that you had to miss so much of the end of your life when it was never in your nature to quietly go to bed early while everyone was still having fun.  


I love you.  I miss you.  It's really hard to cry this much with reading glasses on, so I'm going to go make the boys clean their room or something.  But I'll be thinking about you.  I always am.  xo      

*My dad?  Ph.D. physicist.   


good morning

I suddenly love the summertime.  I used to dread and fear the heat so much that I could hardly enjoy the fruit and light and sandy lint trap in my dryer, but after five plus years of practicing yoga in a screamin hot studio, learning how to calmly become one with the heat and not let it make me panic, I'm cured, which has come in real handy the last week or so.   

The kids have been out of school for not quite two weeks and they're living like college students without any classes or booze (and, I dearly hope, sex), top ramen and all.  My mom and stepdad are having their backyard completely overhauled, so Lulu has been coming to spend time with us pretty often.  She gets here while the kids are all still asleep, and our routine now is that I make a cup of coffee, get back in bed with my laptop and notepad, and she jumps up and sleeps at my feet while I work.  

Lulu comes over early in the morning and cuddles in bed with me while the kids all sleep and I work. #summertime

So now I really, really want a dog.  

My little brother came to town for work and I got to see him yesterday.  Excellent timing.  We went out to dinner with our mom and stepdad 

It's my brother (making a face) and part of my lavender martini

then came back to my place where the kids had cleaned up and baked cupcakes (butt-shaped cupcakes, since he sent her a BOOTY cupcake tin for her birthday) and set up a surprise party, complete with hiding in the closet and jumping out at us when we walked in the door.  

I remembered not to cry until nearly midnight.  It was great.  
Seaswings #sophbday
Seaswings at the Boardwalk on Sophie's Birthday.  

I don't know whose legs those are, but I wish I were in one of the empty swings right now.  Swinging up high next to the beach would be good.  I've got a season pass, you know, so I could just drop everything, tell the kids and work that I've got a doctor's appointment, and go there right now.        

Yesterday (Monday) was my first work day since I picked up my reading glasses (Friday) and I squinted all day long having forgotten them entirely until about 8 p.m.  I swear my brain is a strainer, but instead of filtering for large and small, it just lets all the important stuff go and remembers the junk.  At any rate, today the reading glasses are all systems go and my laptop's looking sharp and sparkly.

My brother is finally here from Portland, traveling for work.  He'll be observing heart surgeries all day and then meeting us for dinner.  I'll be reminding myself all day that I should hold off on the crying until after we leave the restaurant, but I'm going to treat it like it's no big thing so I don't forget. 

Today makes 52 weeks since my dad died.  Two days from now will mark one year. The girls leave that morning for Disneyland with their girl scout troop, the boys have an appointment that afternoon to get their eyes examined.  I'm too far away to visit his grave, so I don't know what I'll do.  I'm not sure that I could miss him more than I already do, and I already drink plenty of beer in his honor.  I guess I'll just close my eyes and hold my breath and wait it out.  

Alex's new 1960 Schwinn beach cruiser #nofilter #oneluckykid

Scuba and Lex went diving on Saturday and stopped at a garage sale in Monterey on the way home because this 1960 Schwinn Speedster caught their eye.  It's a gorgeous bike, dings and seaside rust and all, and even has a 1966-67 bike license sticker on it still.  Lex is the same age now that my dad was when the bike came out, which made me happy this weekend.  Scuba bought it for him as an early birthday gift, and they went and had some of the hardware for the seat replaced and made all the employees at the bike store jealous.  

We had a short video chat with my brother and his family last night.  His two baby boys (one and three years old) were climbing on him and the furniture and each other like monkeys the whole time.  So cute and so exhausting.  How did I do that, again?  

Really early in the morning on Father's Day my dad was in my dream.  Part of it I don't remember now, but in another part I was doing the dishes in a pretty, long sleeved, button-down shirt, and my dad came up behind my left side and rolled up my shirtsleeve for me so it wouldn't get in the dishwater.   

Later in the day I stopped by my mom and stepdad's to drop off a new silk Hawaiian shirt and cards for my stepdad.  I am always telling my children how lucky they are to have all these extra parents and grandparents in their lives, and it's true for me as well. The luck and love and grief will eventually settle in and stop trying to outdo one another, right?    
My 20/15 eyes need reading glasses.

I scheduled myself an eye exam along with the girls recently, expecting to go in and get glasses that I'd have to wear while I drive because everything far away looks like it's frozen in the very teensy first step of exploding.  (OMG, I should just say 'blurry' and quit being such a pretentious asshole.)  Imagine my surprise when the doctor said she's jealous of me and my 20/15 vision.  I thought maybe I'd just answered wrong when she flipped the lenses back and forth.  Turns out that being a girl of a certain age who is reading all day every day, sometimes in not bright enough conditions, produces eye strain.  Tired eyes make blurry leaves in trees and fuzzy freeway signs.  The reading glasses will help my eyeballs relax and work better overall.  

I could NOT believe when I picked them up after work last night how much better I can see up close with them on. The woman at the optometrist's office was cracking up as I took the glasses off and put them back on while looking at the little card she'd handed me.  I think I might have said some bad words out of shock.  I can't see so great far away with them on, but my iPhone and iPad screens both just got an upgrade.

My baby brother is coming to town for work next week, so I get to see him for a little bit.  It's good timing.  I think we kinda need each other a little extra right now.  I am holding my breath a lot, wishing that it would just skip to July already.  I alternate between not accepting that my dad is dead (that was really, really hard to type) and feeling heartbroken from him leaving me.  He's not supposed to do that.  So how can it be almost a year ago that he did?    

I used to read this blog years ago on a pretty regular basis.  Her father passed away and she wrote about her experience more, and with more raw pain, than I do about mine.  It was awful, honestly, and I quit reading.  I get her now.  Why she went on and on and on about it.  Sometimes our brains just bash themselves into the same damn brick wall over and over and over when we don't want to make peace with how things are.  My dad thought, I think even at the very end, that he'd be going home from that hospital, and it's like I've taken over that hope for him.  That doesn't even make any sense, I know, but I'm not sure how else to put it.  

You know what?  It's time to open up the kitchen door and put on some music and cook supper and drink a beer.  
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I went ahead and charged my camera battery, just to see what would happen.  I put it back in the camera as I was walking into my bedroom, then took the lens cap off and pointed at my messy unmade bed.  Pressed the shutter button and CLICK.  Then again, CLICK.  I still don't think it was the battery, though.  I think my Canon was sending me a warning, Screw Instagram!  Use me OR ELSE.

Here's my Soph on her 5th grade promotion day:

last day of school 194.JPG

And here's me, at just about the same age in a similar pose, thirty years ago:

photo (2).JPG

Damn, I loved that jacket.  I can't believe I let a parrot sit on it.  Is it not the most 1982 thing ever?  What you can't tell from the photo is that the sleeves zipped off so it became a vest.  Sigh.  I wish it were still around for the girls to wear.   

I never realized that Sophie had inherited my teeth.  And, weirdly enough, MY orthodontist is going to be the one putting on her braces if enough of her baby teeth fall out before he retires. And, on the day she gets her braces on, I'll be taking her photo.  With my Rebel.  

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Monday was the first weekday of the kids' summer vacation.  I've laid down the law and made it so that unless the bedrooms and living room and kid bathroom are relatively clean, nobody does nothin.  Books are okay, but no playing outside or electronics or texting or tv.  By 11 a.m. the girls had cleaned the hall bathroom, their bedroom, and the living room, and Sophie made lunch for Willow and herself: berry-banana smoothies; pb&j sammiches, mini bell peppers, and ham and cheese - all with happy toothpicks.  They ate and watched Jumanji and I got a staggering amount of work done in peace.  

Yay for Day One. 

On the last day of school, Sophie had her fifth grade promotion.  Everyone over a certain age -  and sometimes I do it, too - bitches and gripes about these mini graduations.  But, you know, it was so sweet and leaving elementary school is kind of a big freaking deal. It feels like even more of a big deal seeing Soph do it than the boys, maybe because I remember being a girl in junior high and I'm happy for her and worried for her and terrified.  It was nice to get to hug her first grade teacher goodbye.  On the morning of the last day of school I was blow drying her hair and had to stand on a step stool to do it because I couldn't get the right angle.  Because she's not little anymore.   


After her promotion ceremony, I got a couple of really good closeups of her with my 50mm lens before my Rebel stopped working.  The shutter button won't depress, no matter what lens I put on it.  I tried to download the photos I did get, but now it won't even turn on.  I'm charging the battery, but I know that's not really the issue.  The real problem is that I've been taking pictures almost exclusively with my iPhone, so the Canon is giving me a big, fat middle finger and taking an early retirement.  I finally splurged on myself and bought an Epiphanie bag (on sale), so maybe if I snuggle it in there, it'll come back around. 

Tomorrow makes twelve weeks since my first surgery, and five since the second.  I feel good. It's almost like nothing ever happened, except for still getting tired easily and all these new scars I have.  Most of them are like little division signs; a tiny line from an incision with a dot above and below from the staple points.  One good thing about putting the surgery off so long is that I got to have it done laparoscopically.  It's an actual miracle, as far as I'm concerned.

A week from tomorrow makes a year since my dad died.  I'm still waiting for the part when it starts to feel real.  A week from tomorrow, it'll be summer again, the second day of it, and I'll be back to a place where I'm not marking days without my dad for the first time anymore.  Birthdays (his, mine, my brother's, my grandmother's), Christmas, Thanksgiving, and even eclipses.  But this Sunday is Father's Day and this will be the first one without him.  I've had a year to get ready for it, but it's never going to be enough.      

Partner since June 2006





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