Monday, July 28, 2008

Toni's Bench

Thanks to Renea for posting this article! What a great way to start the day...

The article begins like this:

Toni Morrison has said that her acclaimed novel “Beloved,” which features the ghost of a baby killed by her enslaved black mother, came out of the need for a literature to commemorate slaves and their history. “There is no suitable memorial, or plaque, or wreath or wall, or park or skyscraper lobby,” Ms. Morrison said in a 1989 magazine interview. “There’s no 300-foot tower, there’s no small bench by the road.”

Photo credit: Anne McQuary for The New York Times

Favorite Quote from the Article:

“Well, the bench is welcoming, open,” she said. “You can be illiterate and sit on the bench, you can be a wanderer or you can be on a search.”

And that search is for anyone, not just black people, she added. If anything, with all the talk about race in this year of Senator Barack Obama’s historic candidacy, Ms. Morrison said, she would like to see white people hold a conversation among themselves about the legacy of slavery.

“African-Americans don’t own slavery,” Ms. Morrison said. “It’s not a brand because there were slave masters and there were abolitionists and there were other people who died to see to it that justice was done.”

Photo credit: Anne McQuary for The New York Times

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Some of the things I wish for my friends are secretly my wishes.

Not that I don't want them to be happy. I do. But I can see what will make them happy so clearly, or so I believe. What if it is all a projection?

What would happen if I turned my keen eye on myself?

Well it's not exactly the eye that's needed. It's the will. The determination and the faith to open my eyes on the truth.

I need to believe -- if I believed, then I would have the courage to do all the things I plan to do and then don't because...

Some of the items on the list from this weekend:

-long walk in the evening
-beach day with a run
-early run in the cemetery
-clean apartment
-clean desk
-mail packages
-find dress for the wedding
-get car washed
-finish statement
-finish blog drafts

Friday, July 25, 2008

Professor Pausch

I woke this morning to the news that Professor Randy Pausch had passed away. I did see him on Oprah and watch his "last lecture" (posted below) a while ago. I was struck then by his fantastic attitude about life -- and the way he suggested that we should live each day to the fullest, not giving up on any of our dreams.

I realized this morning as I heard the folks on the radio remembering the professor that I am most inspired and moved by this courage in the face of adversity -- the healthy attitude people take when things aren't going their way. Not unlike the story I read about the woman with ALS who was living honestly with her disease and preparing her children for what was to come.

Well it makes me ashamed of myself for not going after my dreams more forcefully -- but that would invalidate the spirit. It should be a reminder to believe. To get up when you fall down. To dust yourself off when the roof seems to be caving in on you. In short, to live regardless of the amount of time you have in front of you.

May he rest in peace and may the universe hold his family close.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Word from Universe

July 24, 2008 -- Aquarius (1/20-2/18)
Your recent attempts to catch the eye of that certain someone haven't been as successful as you had hoped they would be, and it's time to realize that you should move on. The more energy you waste on someone who isn't responsive, the less energy you have to start discovering new interests. Your life is about way more than having a relationship or getting someone to notice you. Think more about pleasing yourself right now -- and less about pleasing others.

Exactly what I have been thinking... many outings planned for the weekend that will be pleasing to me, don't care about everyone else!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Trying to keep my promise of back posting ... Since I didn't have access to the internet while on vacation -- that is without paying $.75 per minute! -- I kept notes in my teeny tiny notebook.
I have been trying to decifer the writing ... and, where appropriate, find some photos to go with these words.

Here they are for your perusal.

a word postcard -- a view from the plane

my musings on Independence Day 2008

I have a ton of other drafts that I am working on, slowly... patience is a virtue.

The full moon on my street a few days ago...

Above: the view from the tasting room where I spent a lovely afternoon on Sunday.

Busy Bee

On June 12th I went to visit the doctor for a physical. I was excited about it... ok, maybe not excited, but not dreading. I was riding high on the idea of being minus 20 lbs since my last visit there -- imagining, hoping and wishing that she would give me a smile, pat on the back and a clean bill of health.

Well... in one of those ironic turns, it was exactly the opposite.

If you are no longer interested, this would be a good time to find another post to read... some of what I will say next is medical TMI.

As she was telling me that if my pap smear was clear I wouldn't have to have another one for three years, she says, oh... Not what you want to hear. Ok, so she wants me to go see the ob-gyn. She is just being cautious. I should be happy, right? You want a doctor that really cares about leaving no stone unturned. It's probably nothing, I have just never seen anything like it. Um, not the words you want to hear.

Then she checked my breast... you got it, um, this side feels lumpy. I want you to go get a mammogram, how old are you, just one year early. Better to be safe than sorry. I want you to get the mammogram in the next two weeks. Now, I am not getting crazy worried. Again, she's cautious; it's a good thing.

I mention about being on depo-provera for over 10 years and how my sister was recently told that it could cause osteoporosis. Yes, you need to get a bone density test. Didn't anyone ever tell you it might not be a good idea to be on it for so long? Um, no... including your colleagues, here. The difference between a male and female doctor? Not sure, she is just super cautious. I am starting to be more and more grateful for this fact as the appointment continues. She lets me know that they will have to justify to the health insurance that I need the bone density test, so that referral will take a few weeks.

More tests ordered, more questions asked, more thoughtful consideration. I leave the office with many referrals, a list of ob-gyns that I need to peruse and decide where to go... she has graciously marked the female ob-gyns that she knows personally and professionally and recommends.

Honestly, it was the best and worst doctor visit ever. Best -- no doctor has ever asked me as many questions and wanted to get such a full picture. Worst -- everything that could go wrong, looked questionable.

I felt a little like an electronic gadget just past the expiration date. I am out of warranty and everything is falling apart. Ironic since I have decided that I want to be a FABULOUS FORTY and here I was working on it ... with six more months to go.

So, I have been a busy bee... flitting from one appointment to the next, trying to stay calm. Not really telling anyone until it was nearly over. Breathing a sigh of relief, so when I saw this one at the winery this weekend, I decided I needed to get a shot. I actually caught the bee on the first shot -- miraculously -- but I couldn't see it on the tiny screen -- or maybe it was that I had been drinking quite a bit of wine.

Today I need the champagne. All the tests are done... and I am ALL CLEAR, except for the cholesterol -- one last appointment with my doctor to go over the blood tests and discuss my numbers (HDL LDL LOL). Watch out FORTY, here I come -- I am going to be better than ever... I might even run the full marathon to celebrate.

Anything's possible.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Put on Netflix List

I set my vcr (yes, I know, I know -- but I don't have cable so it my only option) to tape this movie and then ended up watching it live... and then not being able to tape over it... so I watched it again.

I love it. The best thing is the sweetness and honest feelings of hometown pride... the angels are, well, what I think they mean about angelic.

If you get a chance, watch it! It will be well worth the hour spent... love, pure love in the face of ugly hate.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Nelson

90 years... today.

You can read Nelson's birthday message to the world on the title link, and learn a little about his foundation.

In his message, Nelson reminds us that if we have, we should give because others don't have.

I just want to mark his birthday and the richness of his life and the better we are for having the great opportunity to share the world with someone like him.

Coincidentally, I was reading about another remarkable man this morning...

Since I didn't know who he was, I am guessing others don't either, so I thought I would share his story.

We have so much more than we realize that we can share with others.

If you haven't donated to your favorite charity yet this year, today, I challenge you to dig into your hearts and pockets and give something, anything. It feels good, I promise. Especially in these times of financial distress, when you choose to give of yourself it makes everything you do have all that more meaningful and all that you don't have less important.

Still not convinced? Listen to this about giving and receiving.

Happy Friday.

Love in the Time of Cholera

Photos courtesy of New Line Cinema

Benjamin Bratt and friends arrived in my mailbox in the form of Love in the Time of Cholera right before I left for Seattle. I knew I wouldn't have enough time to enjoy it before I got on the plane, but I didn't want BB to be sad and lonely at my apartment (I haven't taught my turtle to use the DVD player, yet), so I handed it to my friend who drove me to the airport and asked her to keep BB company for me.

When same friend picked me up at the airport upon my return, she handed the movie back to me with a big smile on her face. I asked her if she had enjoyed it thinking by the look on her face that she had, but I had no idea ...

She had watched it with one of her pretendientes -- one who has been waiting in the wings for quite a while and has been getting quite a bit of play lately. Though he doesn't match all the items on the checklist, he has figured out what she likes and continues to surprise and entertain her. We joke that she is the equal opportunity dater -- she's kissed a lot of frogs, or at least let them take her to dinner -- but she is on a mission to find the one. She does cut them loose if they are not compatible -- or she can't check off the items on her list.

In any case, she said that the movie had made quite an impression on her suitor -- she realized this when she found his tongue down her throat. I have been first hand witness to my friends pretendientes (not this scene, obviously) and have yet to witness one that was not completely captivated by her -- so I was not convinced that it was really the movie.

Then I watched the movie for myself. I can see where it would be a motivator.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Golden Tiara

Several years ago, my sisters and I devised a plan: get my mother to give up her longing for a big 50th Wedding Anniversary party. We are not opposed to parties and we understand how much my mother loves the idea of being the belle of a ball. Let's be fair. She and my father eloped to Las Vegas back in June of 1958. We have never been able to get either of them to give us an acceptable reason for this choice of nuptials, but I suspect it is because as much as my mother loves the idea of a big party, my father doesn't see the value. Since both my parents are the children of the depression, this kind of argument is hard to beat. But, they chose to elope while my grandmother (mom's mom) was out of the country; and even when they did celebrate their marriage in church two weeks later (the anniversary we celebrate now), it was a very small, private affair.

Understanding all these facts and many others that I don't feel like further enumerating, we still thought that having another faux wedding for them was not the best use of funds. Or the most enjoyable, for them or us. So we set about the task of convincing my mother to give up her secret dream (as she had not asked for a party or announced her determination to give herself a party) of a big, fat Mexican anniversary party. At the time, we were all living through the weekly update about Mrs. Rubio's party.

Mrs. Rubio (with her husband in tow) generally meets my parents and aunt and uncle for breakfast after church on Sundays. [At least she did up to the time that her famous party was about to happen. The falling out between my aunt/uncle and the Rubios that led to them not breakfasting is another story -- and I am not clear on all the facts, so we will leave that to another time.] Each week, Mrs. Rubio would regale my mother and aunt with stories about the party planning: the venue, the band, the food, and, of course, the recuerdos.

With every recounting of Mrs. Rubio party planning, my sisters and I could see our future making recuerdos for my mother's party. Keep in mind that we had just given my mom and dad, each respectively, 70th birthday parties. Each received the proper amount of hype... my dad's party was at our house with his siblings, closest cousins (because otherwise there would be TOO many) and only the friends my mother tolerates. My mom's party had to be in a hired venue with decorations and "catered" food -- on our moderate budget. Of course, there had to be recuerdos, though we settled for table centerpieces that would have to be claimed by only one guest at each table.

It was a lovely birthday party, with budget catering, budget mariachi (local high school group) and budget decorations. Still, it put us all back a fair amount of time and money ... and it lasted a whopping three hours before all of the my parents' contemporaries were too tired to go on. It must be said that my mother could have gone on all night... it was a party, she wasn't tired.

I am guessing that she figured it out, too, because when we suggested that we take a family vacation instead of a big party she didn't refuse right out. She put the condition that all the children would have to commit -- part of the appeal is that we have never taken a family vacation with all of us present. We suggested a cruise to Alaska so that my father could also be cajoled into being excited about the trip -- his first reaction to any such suggestion is to say that he doesn't want to go. I continue to tell my mother that she should always give him this type of news as a declarative statement rather than as a question -- but she wants him to be excited, so the drama continues. In any case, everyone agreed... at least it appeared that way.

I was in charge of researching cruise lines and reporting back to my siblings on prices, itineraries, etc. It would be high season if we were to be there over their anniversary... and, of course, this was non-negotiable. A good friend, and former colleague from my travel agents days, helped us through the process. We found the perfect cruise ... Seattle to Seattle Inner Passage on the Golden Princess -- yes, the LOVE BOAT. Seattle to Seattle was important because it meant lower air fares for those bringing their whole families instead of just themselves. It was a compromise because as retired folks, if we had started or ended in Anchorage, my parents could have actually toured Denali as well, but my mom wanted us all to be there.
So, I will leave most of the drama out of this story, but in the end, the two families opted out and my sister came by herself and my brother chose not to come. But, my cousin Ben did a formidable job as a big brother stand in! I was just telling him that since I am the only one who really gets along with my brother, it's just as well that he chose not to come.

Well, a cruise on the love boat is just what the doctor ordered to make all happy in the group. My father and my brother (the one that actually attended) were thrilled with the venue, as was my brother's girlfriend. Cruising isn't in our blood, my parents were the only ones who had ever cruised before -- in fact, it was a three day cruise we sent them on for their 40th anniversary. I am not sure what we were expecting -- though my younger sister, cousin and I made exercise pacts before we got on the ship knowing that it meant a lot of food.

We didn't realize just how pampered you would feel on the boat -- a godsend for us because my mother might as well have been wearing a golden tiara all week long -- there were so many people making sure that she had everything she wanted, was always happy and satisfied and otherwise feeling like the belle of the ball for SEVEN days in a row. At one point she turned to me and asked if our travel agent had chosen the ship specially for her, the Golden Princess, since it was her 50th? No, but she might as well have.

My younger sister and I also did our best to make sure that my mother was not missing out on any of the trappings for the actual party. My mother booked and paid for her celebration herself before we ever got on the ship, but we made the recuerdos -- as a surprise. My younger sister calls them "cochinadas" -- I call them "tiliches" -- but either way, they are the kind of thing that means a lot to my mom and not that much to most people. We spent a satisfying afternoon at Michaels, chose heart boxes, anchor decorations, gold spray paint, small wooden replicas of a cruise ship, scrap booking pieces, small glass vials, gold ribbon -- just the right one, it took a while to find it -- and penguin and polar bear charms. We spent a late night spray painting (and I say "WE" generously) the boxes and boats, writing on the vials and boxes once dried. Then more time affixing the anchors, attaching ribbons with dangling animal charms. I bought super fancy chocolates for the boxes, and we tried to decide what to put in the little vials. We imagined putting some sea water from one of our cruise stops... but hadn't really made a final decision. The answer revealed itself at the end of our hike in Skagway... as were counting our blessings for finding our way back to the trail head, we rested on a bridge over a beautiful creek. My sister looked down into the water and asked my cousin to pick up the sparkly fools gold. My younger sister and I looked at each other and said... that's it!! Let's put these rocks with their sparkly flecks into the vials!! We emptied one of our water bottles and started scooping pebbles. My cousin produced a little ziploc (he has a well stocked backpack) and filled it with our bounty. We floated down the hill, two days ahead of schedule, we would have all the recuerdos finished.

At the celebration dinner, my dad decided he wanted to make a toast, and choked up telling us how surprised and pleased he was that we had all decided to celebrate with them. This was an unexpected gift to all of us. That is exactly the way of my father, he likes to give gifts when he sees something he thinks would be perfect for you. He is thoughtful in that spontaneous in the moment kind of way though he may not acknowledge your birthday for years. It was perfect, just perfect.

This is what the boxes looked like (above you might be able to glimpse the little vials and the gold boat on the table!
All in all, it was the perfect anniversary celebration for all -- my mom was well taken care of, my family engaged and amused, my father happy to have his kids all together.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Gourmet Dinner

... thanks to the organic farm box and the local gourmet grocery store ;)

wild ahi tuna steak -- seared in sesame oil with a little salt and white pepper

red potato mashies -- made all the tastier by boiling with fresh sage and onion
(with skin, a little olive oil instead of butter, a little nonfat milk, salt and pepper: white and black!) Thanks, Kelvin, I modified your recipe a teensy tiny bit...

purslane (aka verdolagas) -- sauteed with garlic and onions

sourdough baguette

a little rose of zin


Sorry I didn't think to take any photos before I DEVOURED my dinner!!!

Monday, July 14, 2008


After several hours wrestling with the canon website, I found a posting online who could tell me how to download the software that would release the photos from the camera. {Becknell -- YOU ROCK!}

Needless to say, I am out of time to actually compose a thoughtful post, but I thought I should share a couple of the shots I got on the first day.

Keep in mind that I have never used a digital camera; I didn't have a manual; I didn't think to practice before we got to Juneau...

[Backstory: a good friend had her husband send me a digital camera that they were no longer using so that I could take pictures in Alaska with something other than my camera phone. I hustled around looking for a 1gig compact flash memory card -- no small feat -- because it is the largest memory card this camera can handle. I found it on the Thursday before I left for Seattle to catch the boat!]

This is where I would like to make my new summer home (the first of many I wanted to claim on this trip)...

The family enjoying a little togetherness on the whale watching trip; note there were at least four cameras in our family taking in the views.

Here is the Mendenhall Glacier

This picture is just ok... it cannot capture the majesty of this incredible place!

More soon... maybe I can even figure out how to "process" these photos!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I was looking for a quote this evening, and stumbled upon another of my favorite Kahlil Gibran meditations, from The Garden of the Prophet.

I share it with you, with love.

And one spoke and said: “Master, life has dealt bitterly with our hopes and our desires. Our hearts are troubled, and we do not understand. I pray you, comfort us, and open to us the meanings of our sorrows.”

And his heart was moved with compassion, and he said: “Life is older than all things living; even as beauty was winged ere the beautiful was born on earth, and even as truth was truth ere it was uttered.

“Life sings in our silences, and dreams in our slumber. Even when we are beaten and low, Life is enthroned and high. And when we weep, Life smiles upon the day, and is free even when we drag our chains.

“Oftentimes we call Life bitter names, but only when we ourselves are bitter and dark. And we deem her empty and unprofitable, but only when the soul goes wandering in desolate places, and the heart is drunken with over-mindfulness of self.

“Life is deep and high and distant; and though only your vast vision can reach even her feet, yet she is near; and though only the breath of your breath reaches her heart, the shadow of your shadow crosses her face, and the echo of your faintest cry becomes a spring and an autumn in her breast.

“And Life is veiled and hidden, even as your greater self is hidden and veiled. Yet when Life speaks, all the winds become words; and when she speaks again, the smiles upon your lips and the tears in your eyes turn also into words. When she sings, the deaf hear and are held; and when she comes walking, the sightless behold her and are amazed and follow her in wonder and astonishment.”

And he ceased from speaking, and a vast silence enfolded the people, and in the silence there was an unheard song, and they were comforted of their loneliness and their aching.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Vacation Exhaustion

Back from Alaska, but extremely exhausted.

Promise to post... back post, forward post and pictures.

Just not now.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Fireworks in Seattle

As I watched the fireworks exploding in the sky it was still hard to grasp that it was the Fourth of July -- long day traveling, exercising, little to no sleep, worried about family dynamics and, finally, seeing an old friend -- someone I hadn't seen in 16 years! -- it just didn't feel like Independence Day.

What was independent about it?

Maybe it was that I was feeling a little closed in from the tip of the iceberg on family togetherness... I was trying to balance the need for compassion and open mindedness and the distinct sense that I was in for seven days of no alone time.

Perspective: this week is all about my mom and dad... everything else is and should be secondary.

Universe: send as much compassion my way as possible.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Memory Postcard

Mountain tops shrouded in clouds that are more like mist/fog though we are far from the ocean now which is where my mind goes when I see that kind of fog/mist.

Underneath the clouds -- these may be smoked induced -- there may be trees and roads and even snow but all I can see are the vague outlines of sleeping dinosaurs covered in a blanket of clouds .

--from the airplane near Shasta

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

summer flurries

Friday I get on a plane for Seattle and then Saturday, I get on a boat bound for Alaska...
so the summer flurries are here... flurries of activity that is.

We have been planning this trip for TWO years. You would think that I would be better prepared for it by now. We (the family sans one brother who is clearly too good for us) are going on this cruise to Alaska (aboard the LOVE BOAT, of course) to celebrate my mother and father's 50th wedding anniversary.

Yes, you read correctly 50 YEARS. Who knew anyone stays married that long anymore... I thought as I counted how many years I would be celebrating TODAY (my un-anniversary -- maybe anti-anniversary? not sure which is more appropriate since I am obviously not anti the concept) if I hadn't liberated myself from the tortuous marriage several years ago. [14 years, if you must know, yes, 14 years to this day I made a big mistake - hopefully the biggest mistake so that I don't have to go anywhere near that disaster again!]

Just a taste of what is going on... (from my to do list)
Drop off dry cleaning
Pick up dry cleaning
Buy Chocolates (For the "favor boxes"!)
Print Wedding Photos (mom and dad's wedding photos)
Pick up Photos at Walgreen (mom and dad through the years)
Buy Camera Memory Card (Thanks, Rosio and Gabe, for making this possible!!)
Clean turtle's tank
Buy turtle MORE fish (she has eaten $5 worth of fish in the past five days... )
RUN at least three times this week (um, need to get ahead of cruise food)
Walgreens or Longs run
Find HANDS FREE set -- free on distributed in Alameda THURS morn
Set VCR to tape faves (I know, how retro of me...I don't have cable, so this IS the only alternative)
Charge Ipod
Download PodCasts!
Get BOOKS from the library (I listen to ipod while reading, too)

I only listed the items that are pertinent to the trip... embedded in the actual list are MANY MANY more items that must get done before FRIDAY at 7am. Not the least of which is finishing some of the draft blogposts!

Happy Wednesday! [How did it get to be WEDNESDAY so soon????]