Tuesday, December 25, 2012

So Far, So Good

I have ventured into baking again.

I know, I am a glutton for punishment.

But I had promised The Kid that she would have a lemon meringue pie for dinner tonight. (I am a glutton for punishment).

For those of you who are uninformed, my last effort ended up on the kitchen stove---minus a crust.

The stove top
The remainder

This time I used a cookie sheet and moved ever so slowly. Even putting the ingredients together. It took a LONG time.

I was extremely careful with the eggs. No yolk in the whites, said my mother; so there were no yolk droplets in my egg whites. Medium heat for the lemon custard; so medium heat. Stir constantly; so I stirred forever!

Then I added cream of tartar and vanilla extract to the egg whites and beat them shiny and stiff. I even added the sugar very slowly.

And this was the result.
Today's effort before browning

I carefully (oh, lordy, you don't know how carefully) transferred the pie to a cookie sheet. Then I carefully slid the whole thing into a preheated oven (I did that before I started anything so I wouldn't forget!)

Twelve excruciating minutes later I had to remove it from the oven. I had cleared large swathes of the kitchen counter so that I would not bump into ANYTHING.

I carefully removed the cookie sheet with the pie on it.

I made it to the stove top!

And then, it a miraculous feat, the pie, in one piece made it to the cooling rack ON THE COUNTER!!

I made it to the COUNTER!

It sits now, safe and sound, in the refrigerator for the mandatory 3 hours.


May you have peace in your life this year. And may your efforts be as successful as my pie!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Singing When It Hurts

Tonight the Vocal Arts Ensemble joined the Central California Children's Choir at a sing-a-long at the Performing Arts Center on the campus of Cal Poly. We do this every year.

We sing a couple of songs from our Christmas Concert, then the Children's Choir sings a couple of songs followed by the Advanced Singers of the Children's Choir and then us again.

Between choirs the directors lead the crowd in singing Christmas Carols. That is the VAE behind them in the picture.
Gary and Melody leading the audience in carols.

The crowd is full of children. From babes in arms to teenagers. There are a lot of older people as well. Many with walkers or canes. Some in wheelchairs.

Everyone is dressed for Christmas and the audience glitters.

At the end of the show, the children's choir joins the VAE on stage and we sang a song called "Hope for Resolution"

The song is a composite of  an old hymn called "Of the Father's Love Begotten" in English and a Zulu freedom song in Swahili . It was written to commemorate the meeting of President Frederik Willem de Klerk and Nelson Mandela. It was at that meeting that, as Dawn Spears said in her introduction, "the world shifted" because it was the end of apartheid and the beginning of acceptance of each other. 

I am standing next to maybe a 10 year old girl who is singing her heart out. I am singing and crying and trying to not to reach out and take her in my arms in a giant bear hug.

It would have scared her to death. 

She would not have understood how precious she is and why some stranger would want to hold her, to make her feel safe.

I wanted to feel safe. 

This week has not been good for us as people. 

We can make it better.

Sing. Laugh. Love.

Be good to one another.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Peace, please

On day's like today, when the news is so awful, I try to go to a peaceful place.

Yesterday, as I was going to work, I stopped to take a photo of the fall/winter morning here on the mountain. I spent a lot of time looking at it today. This is my peaceful place.

Feel free to use this peaceful scene when the world is ugly and you don't understand.

I do.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Life Is a Lemon Meringue Pie

As a young girl (probably around the time I was the only "squaw" in the kindergarten Indian raiding party) I promised myself I would NOT learn to type or cook. At least I would not publicize  these abilities. My theory was that the male ruling class would force me into a kitchen or a typing pool or both when I wished to be more than that.

I did go through a phase of gourmet cooking in high school. I was trying to get a B in the class but the instructor didn't like the way I measured things. Thus I maintained my reputation. I did, however, cook some great stuff for the family. A bit of Cog au Vin, a little roasted chicken with cream sauce, and a little Lemon Meringue Pie. Always, Lemon Meringue Pie.

I always used the recipe on the Kingsford Corn Starch box.


But as I grew old and wiser, I began to make the pie only on special occasions for the special few. It was Melodie's birthday cake.

So one year I was making the pie at Camp Nelson. The whole family is there. They are ready for this blast from the past. And I learned something.

Don't make the lemon custard in an aluminum pan.

The custard was this amazing color of gray. Shiny, light gray.

Not many people eat gray things.

It tasted great but you had to shut your eyes to eat it. Or go outside in the dark.

Over the years, I lost some of my skill at this particular recipe. Don't know if it was age or the presure of expectations.

One year I forgot the corn starch. Ever had lemon soup. Cold.

One year I forgot the butter.

One year, well, let's not discuss that one.

So it is now a "watch and see if she can do it" event.

This year, I promised the family a lemon meringue pie for our Thanksgiving meal. So, off to the store I went on Black Friday to buy the freshest lemons, fresh corn starch (Kingsford, of course), baker's sugar, fresh eggs and a little cream of tartar.

I come home.

The crust goes swimmingly as I bought the little white ceramic beads to put in the crust while it cooked. No bubbles this year. At least not in the crust.

Then, I carefully, as I was taught in home economics back in high school, measured every ingredient and set them aside in their own containers.

I mixed the ingredients per the old Kingsford recipe (it isn't on their box anymore. I had to go to the internet!)

I cooked the custard patiently and slowly.

It was PERFECT. Tartly sweet with good body.

I beat the egg whites to beautiful stiff peaks. I  added the sugar delicately so as not to deflate the air in the egg whites.

I spread the meringue carefully. Putting gentle peaks which would, if I had done it right, produce sugar beads.

I baked it at the right temperature. For the right amount of time.

I carefully lifted the aluminum pie tin to the top of the stove.


And the back half of the meringue slid off to lodge itself between the stove and the countertop.

A portion did remain behind. On the stove. Begging not to leave such a perfect creation.

After a few minutes of soundless screaming and the spouse offering to clean up (he never does that so he knew how mad I was), I returned to the kitchen.

As I put the salvageable parts   back on the pie and began the clean up, we began to laugh.

Can I PLEASE make a pie that is NOT connected to a good story of how I can't cook!

Please. Please. PLEASE!!!!

Below are the remnants of my effort.

After the major part of the clean up

Back of the pie after reconstruction

The front of the pie. Undamaged. Perfect.

Guess I will try again tomorrow. Melodie wants a lemon meringue pie!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sleeping Alone

Since we rescued her from a puppy mill, Zelda has had a pack. She was the Alpha Female. A title that she and LadyBug would occasionally discuss. Such discussions usually led to time outs in respective cages.

But by the time we moved to the mountains, LadyBug was too old and infirm to discuss the matter anymore. She just didn't care. And I had asserted my Alpha Female rights.

But Zelda had a pack around her. Mohawk and LadyBug were always there. For 10 years.

LadyBug cleaned her face every day. Mohawk always sniffed the other end. Don't ask me why.

When Bug and Mo passed, Zelda began looking for them. Especially at dinner time.

The routine had always been that Zelda ate in her cage (in Grover Beach) or the laundry room (on the mountain) She was served first. LadyBug was in her cage (Grover) or the bathroom (mountain). She was always served second. Mohawk was last and he ALWAYS got the kitchen.

When we first put her food in the kitchen, Zelda would not eat. She ran up the hall and into the bathroom. She finally came back and ate.

She won't sit with me in my chair but she will sit with Mel. Mohawk and LadyBug always sat on my lap for tv time.

She sleeps at the end of the bed refusing to take Mohawk's or LadyBug's place at our side or on the pillows.

She follows either of us around, not letting us out of her sight.

We talk to her alot. We take her for walks and let her sit on the front porch with us.

But the worst, for her has been sleeping by herself in the cat room. It takes her quite awhile to settle down and drop off. And she won't go in the room without one of us.

She misses them more than we do.

She gets lots of attention now. THAT she really, really likes.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Saying Godbye

Ladybug 2011
Mohawk 2011

They came into this world 10 days apart, from different breeders. They met on the trip to California. They were 8 weeks old.

They never parted after that.

And tonight they left this world together.

Mohawk is no longer in pain from a back and hips that could not bend anymore.

Ladybug no longer has to fight to raise her head or to try to lick my face.

I give thanks for my daughter who met us at the vets.

I give thanks to the entire staff at Arroyo Grande Veterinary Clinic who stayed after closing until we could get there. They were kind, gentle and loving.

We miss these two more than you know. But we are relieved that the pain is over for both of them.

Maybe later I can tell the story.

Tonight I cry and hug Zelda.

Stupid Dogs

OK. She sat in my lap or next to me all evening.

Wrapped in a soft, red blanket.

I gingerly carried her outside and encouraged her to walk and do her business.

She slept on my pillow when we went to bed.

I woke up every two hours or so to make sure she was still breathing.

She was.

Then at 6 ($%^%$^%$%^*&^%)AM......

On a day that I DON"T have to be at work at the crack of dawn......

She wakes me up by LICKING MY FACE!!!!!

I was ecstatic!

And exhausted......

So the whole doggie family gets up. I pull on some warm clothes (it is cold out there!) and we all troop to the pee yard. SHE RUNS.

Runs, I tell you.

Yesterday she couldn't walk and today she RUNS???

What is up with that?????? 

I give food and she eats about half of it. Goes back outside and does her business.

Now she is sleeping. At my feet. Snoring.

Stupid Dogs...........

Thursday, October 25, 2012


I don't know if I have ever told the story of Ladybug. If I have then tonight is a very good time to tell it again.

It was in early October. I remember because she was 8 weeks old and she was born on August 10, 1996. The breeder that we had contacted to get Mohawk brought an extra puppy with her.

They came from Fallon, Utah. The breeder came with at least 8 puppies. Mohawk was one. Six others were from her kennel. But one, one little, itty-bitty, runt of the litter, dressed in black and white (with little tan eyebrows) came from a kennel that belonged to a friend of hers.

They had come through a terrible wind storm in Nevada. The breeder couldn't stop and let the puppies out so, when they arrived at our place, they ALL needed a bath and a place to run around. Our backyard was perfect.

Mohawk wasn't much of a player. He seemed to be trying to figure things out. But the littlest one, the little, itty-bitty runt was running everywhere and ordering (or trying to order) the other pups about.

My camera was suppose to be taking film of Mohawk. It kept drifting (all by itself) to that energetic ball of fur.

We transacted our business about Mohawk and the breeder was off to her brother's home in Palmdale.

That night Mel asked me if we could spare another $250.00. The next morning I drove to Palmdale and Ladybug became part of our life. She fit perfectly in the pocket of Mel's robe and he would carry her around with her head peeking out.

She took over our hearts and she and Mohawk were NEVER apart.

We had them trained (actually, we got trained) at the American School of Dog Obedience in Bakersfield. And wherever we took them they were well-behaved and happy.

Both of them loved to chase a tennis ball. So we took them to the local school grounds where they had a fenced in baseball field. We would turn them loose and watch them run. Mohawk was much faster in the long run but Ladybug was a great sprinter. And heaven help us if birds landed. (That is why we went for the fenced area) Neither one would listen if there was a bird to chase.

But tonight I sit by her little bed where she sleeps. She refused food this morning. She almost falls if she tries to walk. She did drink some water and I got some food down her tonight.

But Mel and I both know that it is a matter of time now.

She is peaceful. She is not in any apparent pain. She just sleeps and breathes lightly. Her body, tiny but tough, is finally giving out. Ever so slowly.

Mohawk stands by her and whines. That is one reason that I am sure that she is leaving us.

It will be a long night.

But I also must say.....she has fooled us before.

I will keep vigil and keep you posted.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Birdman of Santa Margarita

It was a known fact in Bakersfield that my spouse, Melvin, was an artist in the courtroom. He could pick a jury with incredible insight and present a case that insulted no one. He won alot.

It was a known fact that when we were in Las Vegas, the same spouse (that doesn't sound right...but you know what I mean..) could cajole a slot machine into spewing its guts just like a cop on cross examination. We almost always came home even.

What no one knew (and we thought it was just a fluke) was that birds LIKED him. We saw this for the first time in Bakersfield. He found a baby bird in our backyard that had fallen from the nest. Momma was going nuts. Mel walked up and picked up the baby. We put it on our balcony with water and in a nest in a hubcap. It drank some water and chirped. We left and, from a distance, watched Momma come in and teach the baby to fly.

The following year, at about the same time, a bird of the same species, flew into our garage. Mel was sitting at his work bench and the bird flew right up to him, stayed a few minutes and then flew out. We had lots of baby birds in the backyard trees that year.

So we are suspicious of Mel's bird attraction.

There were at least 3 other incidents where birds would come up to him but none of them were like today.

Mel is sitting on the porch (like he does)

Only he is on his laptop playing poker. And a little finch flies up and jumps up on his finger. It stays there for a few seconds and flies away. Mel didn't flinch and neither did the finch.

When I get home, Mel discovers a little baby finch that has apparently hit the window. The bird is sitting on the porch railing and does not fly away or even move when Mel approached. The bird let Mel pick it up.

He puts the bird in one of our planter oak barrels, gives it some water and some bird seed and backs off. The bird stays curled up against the side of the barrel for awhile then begins to eat and drink. Mel is sitting on the porch about 15 yards away.

The bird, after a little while, begins to fly in short hops. And when he is flying well, the bird flies over to the porch and lands in Mel's LAP! Then it stays in Mel's hand and let's me take this picture from less than a foot away!

Just hangin' out with the birds.

Yup, Birdman of Santa Margarita!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Buckaroo Time

I will admit that I haven't been writing much on this blog of late.

I have an EXCUSE. A Real one

I got an iphone. I finally turned in my Droid for an iphone. I still feel like a traitor.

BUT---we had to integrate everything at the office and in order to use the ipad (that I won!!!!!) to its fullest extent it was just easier to cave in and go Jobs over Gates.

And "What", do you say "Does that have to do with your lazzzzy backside not writing on your blog??"


I couldn't figure out how to get the pictures from there to here. The camera wouldn't let me go to my usual upload.

But being a smart, articulate, resourceful woman, I did what any woman in my position would have done. I admitted my faults to my daughter and she showed me how to do it.

So NOW I can tell you about the deer.

Well, to be exact, I will tell you more about the deer.

Every evening, just before sunset they come into the front yard.

The does and fawns come first.

And then the bucks.
That is the 4 pointer. There is a six pointer but he is a bit more skittish and then there is one that is just breaking his horns.

They hang around eating the plums that have fallen and, since it is so dry, the grass. They ignore the juniper but they like the new salvia plants. Please note that the leaf line on all the trees is about deer head height!

They circle the house...going to the oak arroyo on the south to eat the acorns, then across the back to the lilac trees on the neighbor's land.

Their last stop is their nesting area to the north west of us. I pass them every morning on my way out. And if I get lucky they are there when I get home at night.

I often stop and roll down the window and stare at them. They stare back. They somehow know they are safe here and that Mel and I won't harm them.

The peace and beauty that these gentle creatures bring to us, here on our mountain, is indescribable. It is worth the drive over a mile of dirt road to come to this every night.

I think I love this place.

Yeah, I do.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Yesterday Melodie and I went for lunch at a deli on High St. It is called the High Street Deli. Catchy....

Dan used to go there whenever he was in San Luis. I never went with him.

Until yesterday. His presence was palpable. I could see him at one of the cramped barrel tables, perched on a stool eating potato chips and waiting for his sandwich. I could hear him laughing with the girl at the cash register.

I have had a lot of those days lately.

I want him to come back and somewhere in me I don't understand why he can't do that.

I feel like a child.

Then today one of the court interpreters reminded me of something. Every morning when you open your eyes be thankful because some people can't see. When you smell your coffee be thankful for some can't smell. And when you feel, be especially grateful for so many can't.

I am trying very, very hard to be thankful.

Maybe it is time for a bit of a cry.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Back to the Children.........

There is something very wonderful happening at my house.

It's "the kids".

You see, long ago, when Zelda came onto the scene there were several physical discussions about who was the leader of the pack. Mohawk was male leader (the only one, therefore...) but Zelda had issues about LadyBug's role.

It took some time to get them to tolerate each other.

Then we introduced two new cats. At the time we had a Russian Blue named Mithrander. A bundle of cuddle in a fierce body; Spot, a pure bred Cornish Rex; and Spot's niece, Lady Tiara Rex (better known as TezzaButts).

To say that the dogs were indignant about such intrusion would be an understatement.

So the divided house began.

Dogs had the kitchen and the family room.

Cats had the living room and ALL of the bedrooms including their own cat room.

And so it remained for many years and a couple of moves.

Then.....we bought the SMALL house. Mithy, Spot and TezzaButts had crossed the bridge so we were down to Diamond and Putter.

In the small house we gave them a cat room. But they had to share with me and my computer. That meant that the dogs had to be allowed in when I was there because, well,.......I am the Pied Piper of the pack.

You see we settled the discussions about leader by ME becoming leader.

The Cats didn't agree but they were being fed and the cat boxes cleaned so they really didn't care.

But yesterday, I found out how far we have come.

Take a look.

All three dogs. Asleep at my feet. No discussion about who sleeps where or when.

And then....

Putter languidly walking around and pausing to say hello to LadyBug! No hissing or growling. Just a very quiet "meow".

Oh, the little beds around LadyBug----they belong to the cats.

Peace in the Valley!!!!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Long Ago But Not Far Away

Long ago, in another life and time, I packed up my belongings, my daughter and my cat and moved to Sacramento, California. My brother had found us an apartment on the edge of a very nice middle class neighborhood. I could afford it because it was next to an active train track!

The area had several advantages. First and foremost, it was safe for the kid. It had an elementary school only two blocks away. She didn't have to cross any busy streets to get there. It had a grocery store two blocks in the other direction. And it had people who were willing to babysit if necessary.

Thirty years ago, this month, that move happened. And thirty years ago this month, I met Joel. He was single, gay and just as terrified as I was. He was a bit younger than me but we hit it off. And we became best friends.

He was part of the infamous "tag team babysitting" team. He was an integral part of our lives. We watched the last episode of MASH together in the Student Union after our torts final. He taught me what a frittata was and how to make it. He helped me be proud of being me.

Then we graduated.

He moved to Los Angeles and I moved to Bakersfield. Our lives took different paths. He practiced civil litigation and then morphed into estate planning and probate. I was a Public Defender.

I hadn't seen him in almost 30 years.

Then I got a call today. "Hey, Giz wanna have lunch?" He was in SLO and wanted to see me. I JUMPED at the chance. And for the next 3 hours we talked and laughed and shared memories and new stories. He is still Joel. He is still my friend.

Joel, I love you. And Garret is pretty cool, too.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Oh, Deer. Oh, Deer. Oh, Deer

Prior to moving into the middle of nowhere, just off the grid, and amidst the hills, I had never really come close to real, live wildlife. This is not to say that I had never seen wildlife at Camp Nelson. I did. Just not up close and personal.

There is the story of Mrs. Patterson (our next door neighbor at Camp Nelson) scaring off a bear. And there is the story of the bear breaking into our cabin. But I never saw a bear or a mountain lion. I did see a few deer from a distance. My mother warned me that they had ticks so I was not to get close. I didn't know what a tick was but mother made it sound very dangerous and dirty.

So when we first saw deer in our yard, I took to examining them (from a distance) to take in their natural beauty and grace. I learned that deer don't so much run as they BOUND. Boing, boing, boing, across the yard.

But I never imagined that I would be really close to them.

Over the last week or so, the weather up here has been in the range of 109-111 degrees. The streams and ponds have dried up. But we leave water in the bird baths for the birds and the squirrels. We didn't think that deer would come into our front yard for that water.

Over the last few days a herd consisting of two bucks, two does and two fawns has been hanging around the dry creek bed next to us. Last night the birdbaths were full. This morning they were empty. And this evening, we found out why.

Meet a momma doe.

And deer up to the bar!

I now know why they are called Mule Deer. And I now know to keep the birdbath full!

Oh, they love the plum tree, too!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Seriously Hot!

The thermometer outside (in the shade) reads 111 degrees Fahrenheit.

It doesn't feel that hot until you get in the sun because of the constant breeze that we are lucky enough to get. But stay on the porch long enough (10 seconds will do) and you begin to say that the thermometer is probably right.

The neat thing (I was gonna say "cool" but then opted out of the pun!) is that the interior of our house is only 86 degrees. Thank you, previous owners, for the whole house fan in the attic. So with a couple of floor fans we are just fine.

The dogs sleep and wait for their potty breaks until it cools off.

And it always cools off here. (see where the pun would have worked?) There is always an evening breeze that comes off the ocean and climbs the mountain.

And about this time of night the deer start their forays into the rosemary and roses.

It is just (here it comes...) cool!

(Couldn't help myself)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

GeorgeMark House

I have a very nice brother and sister-in-law. They let me stay at their home when I am in the Bay area. They have helped me and my other brother out on numerous occasions and have been more than gracious about it. That makes them nice people.

What makes them GREAT people is what they have done for the severely and terminal ill children of California.

Welcome to George Mark Children's House.

It is NOT a hospital. It is a place for palliative care for children and their families. There are nurses, and doctors and psychologists and therapists of all kinds. They have bereavement care and counseling.

Each room has its own theme and mural. The medical equipment is hidden behind the panel with the cat on it. Each room has an extra bed (comfortable type) for a relative. There are also suites for the families to stay in if they wish.

There is a therapy pool.

There is a gathering room.

 There are peaceful, manicured grounds.

But it is ALL about the kids.

There are at least three more boards that are covered with the children that have been to this place.

Oh, did I forget to mention that they are pet friendly?

These welcome dogs may be fake but real ones are allowed to stay. If the pet is a rabbit or a cat or a hamster or (this I couldn't believe) a snake---whatever---they are welcome at George Mark Children's Home. As brother Bill says,."The pets get it!"

I have heard about George Mark Children's House for years. And my response was always "Gee, that is great, Bill. How was your golf game."

Not any more. I have seen this place and felt its energy. I have felt the peace and the acceptance of letting go. I have felt how this place makes transition a much easier, not easier, but more understandable thing.

Some kids come to learn how to cope with their terminal diseases. Some come to let there families have a break from the pressure of caring for a terminally ill child. Some come to learn to care for their children outside of a hospital.

But they all are there because they can find some peace there.

George Mark Children's House operates on donations. Until very recently, insurance companies would not pay for care at a palliative care house. They would pay for the care in a hospital but not at places like George Mark Children's House. 

I cannot adequately describe this place. PLEASE go to www.georgemark.org and see what they are doing.

What really blows me away is that two people, my sister-in-law, Dr. Kathy Hull and Dr. Barbara Beach started this project on their own. Brother Bill has been working on it none stop.

These are just ordinary people. With a dream and a tenacious will to see it all work.

I am amazed at their work and ashamed of my less than enthusiastic understanding of the project.

So, to make up for it I am asking anyone who reads this to go to the George Mark Children's House link above and click on their donation link. Give what you can. Then pass this on to anyone you know. Every penny helps.

A place in San Leandro, California is making a difference. It is amazing.

Monday, July 16, 2012


When Mel and I first saw this place we gave a giant sigh of relief. A small home on a bit of acreage in the middle of nowhere. Where we could sit on the porch and read.

Where we could plant flowers and watch them grow.

But we knew that we had to have a plan. A way to escape if Mother Nature got really pissed or some yawhoop got REALLY stupid. That would mean fire. And fire in sagebrush country is very, very dangerous.

So the plan is grab the dogs and the cats and get the hell out o' here. Nothin' but us and the pets.We keep the traveling cages close at hand and easy to get. Just in case.....

Well, welcome to almost just in case.

That is not a cloud.

And that is not a cloud.

That is smoke. Big, billowing smoke. Which a short while ago was orange and pink with heat and debris. It is about six miles away at this point.

We have been told by the CHP to stay put for the moment. The fire is going the other way.  But I just looked out my window and saw this:

So, it may be just in case.

I will keep you posted.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


These last three weeks have been a bit hairy. (not as hairy as some of my online friends are having! Hang in there THUMPER!)

But it was hairy enough.

I was in a murder trial and working each night until late so that I could be prepared the next day. Now I do get a bit uptight when I am in trial. (The Kid tends to wear emotional armor when trial comes around.) I am very focused on what has to be done for my client. I forget to eat, drink water and otherwise take care of my physical plant.

So when I get cranky no one really notices. But, at the end of the day, I do know that I need some emotional recharging.

Now my spouse knows the signs and symptoms of trial. And he does his best to avoid direct incoming fire. He even finds ways to defuse the time bomb walking up the steps to the house.

This is his latest foray into horticulture and he knew I would love it.

The Man's Sunflowers

Now you will note that there are a few "holes" in the rows. Mr. Gopher made a few meals off of the sprouts. We even watched one disappear one evening.

But I get to see these bright, happy flowers when I come home from a very stressful (and factually ugly) case.

I stop and notice the life-cycle.

Seems that there is some rule that says one bee to a flower. But I watch for several minutes as the bee fills its pollen sacs and then heads for home.

That's when I head to the door.

And I am home.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

I Still Miss her

Thirty years ago today.

I remember it so very, very vividly.

Dad and I were walking back from the restaurant where we had dinner.

As usual, there was little talking but on that evening the silence was about Mom. We both knew that the end was coming. We had been sitting vigil for two weeks. We just could not talk about it.

But on the walk back, Dad started to run. I didn't ask, I just kept up with him.

When we got to her floor at Standford Medical, I held onto his arm. And as the head nurse came from around the counter at the nurse's station, his knees buckled. And I held on.

She was gone.

And I had two very, very conflicting feelings. Oh, no and Thank, God.

Mom died of ovarian cancer. A long, painful illness that, back then, no one knew how to fight. She had repeated surgeries, debilitating chemotherapy, and long hospitalizations. All she wanted was to go to Camp Nelson to die and the doctors said, "Let's try this.."

Mom was an old school nurse. If a doctor said something it was gospel. So she never saw Camp Nelson again.

I remember driving back to where we were staying and my dad asking me if I was ok. I said yes. At that time I was.

Over the last thirty years I have been ok and not ok with losing mom then.

Today, I am not so ok.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Today is Her Birthday

I was taught, at a very early age, that women could be a part of the workforce.

That may sound idiotic now. Of course, women are part of the workforce!

But in the 1950's June Cleaver lived. Women stayed at home and created a living space for their husbands and children. They wore dresses all day and were always presentable when the MAN came home.

But my mother was a Registered Nurse. An acceptable female occupation.

She did not have a college degree but she went to St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco for three years to learn her skills. The hard way.

They did direct patient care. They learned to take orders from doctors and care for the person in that hospital bed. They did bed pans, and IV's and sponge baths. They personally cared for each and every patient.

She would work continuous shifts with no sleep and little food. She lost weight. She was exhausted.

But she earned her cap.

And for all of my life she was a nurse.

And she taught me that it was ok to work. Really ok.

Father was another matter. To him women should never work. They should be "taken care of" by their husbands. So Mom convinced him that I should go to college to be an asset to a husband as he "climbed the corporate ladder".

Nice one, Mom.

So I got to go to college. But I had also been instilled (by Father) that every female needs a male. So I got married, too.

The conflict in me was tremendous. Be June Cleaver or Florence Nightingale (ok...maybe Mary Richards....)

When I finally figured out that I was the only person that could or should support me, Mom was dying. I was to start law school in 2 months. I had received no support from Father and Mom wasn't in a position to encourage me.

While in the ICU, after her last cancer surgery, I asked her if she was scared. She nodded "yes" and I told her to give her fear to me. I sat next to her bed, holding her hand, and the last thing she said to me, without any fear in her eyes, was, "make me proud".

That was all I needed.

She gave me the best gift a young, single mom could ever ask for.

She told me it was ok to be me.

It was ok to work.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


The mystery is solved.

Zelda can fly.

For a Cocker Spaniel that is a very special attribute.

It also helps if you are craving cat food.

But I think I know what her runway is.

It starts with the covered blue tub that holds the extra dry cat food. The lid is quite sturdy and secure. She can't get into it but she can get on it.

And when it is placed close to a table (at this point it is next to the litter box table) she just has to maneuver the cone collar over the lip of the table and up she goes.

Then it is a simple step to the low, flat cat tree. (It looks like a tree, too!) One more step to the chest of drawers and a short, down step to the food.

I caught her when she bumped up against the lamp and I heard it! Standing there with her back feet on the chest of drawers and her cone completely over the cat food bowl!!!

At least at this point she doesn't look like she ate a bowling ball.

But she is mad at me. No snacks.

I think I need to divest the room of some furniture.

By the way, her landing was manually assisted. She did not like that flight!

Saturday, June 9, 2012


We have a dog area.

 It is real spiffy now.

It has gates and a ramp off the deck.

It also has weeds. LOTS of weeds.

And weeds around here mean foxtails.

BIG ones.

Now, I am not a complete idiot. Foxtails and Cocker Spaniels do not mix. Ears that hang down get grabbed by those pesky little weeds and they put their hooks in deep.

So we weedwhacked.

Several times.

We really didn't think that the dogs (well, one in particular) would eat them as they lay dead and withered on the ground.

BUT we forgot about the birdseed.

BIRDSEED? you say.

Yes, birdseed.

You see, hanging from the edge of the deck is a bird feeder. The finches and wrens and orioles and nuthatches just love it. And so do the doves. They go for what falls on the ground.

And so does that infamous dog. She LOVES birdseed. And if it is sitting on or under or about a foxtail........

Well, she eats that, too.

This resulted in foxtail mouth.

This resulted in trip to veterinarian.

This resulted in emergency surgery.

This resulted in an empty bank account.


STOP THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!