Saturday, December 20, 2014

Them's Fightin' Words

There are two words that, after almost 23 years of marriage, tell the other person that they are getting close to reoccurring, offending behavior. 

1. Screwdrivers---This comes for either being overly helpful or from deep seated control issues. It arose when one spouse was putting together a piece of furniture using the aforementioned tool and the other, without verbal communication, took said tool from first spouse.

Subsequent discussion was, well, a little on the warm side of the stove.......

I give this no gender assignments but I don't think it takes a rocket scientist or a carpenter to figure that one out. 

2. Checkbook---This comes from a road trip to Las Vegas. I admit to being the offending party.

You see, I was never good at arithmetic. I did really well in algebra and geometry. I can add, multiply, divide and work out equations. But ask me to subtract...... I really don't know what happens to my brain.

So on this road trip, spouse is driving. I am requested to figure the balance in the checkbook as the last several checks have not been eliminated from the balance.

I take the checkbook and, in short order, give the total. I am, of course, quite pleased with myself.

Spouse, in a tone of astonishment, says, "That is NOT possible."

I insist that I am correct. I have done the arithmetic several times. Discussion ensues.

Spouse, not so quietly, explains that the balance was SIGNIFICANTLY less BEFORE I eliminated the checks from the balance.

I had added the checks into the balance as opposed to subtracting them. I did it three times in a row. (I was checking my work!)

Needless to say, this is a sore subject with me.

The advent of small calculators was a life saving event for me.

But those lovely instruments don't work if you don't feed them the right information.

So today, as I am beginning a new weaving project I added in the stuff I was suppose to subtract. The project DOUBLED in size.

The lovely scarf I was going to make is now going to be dishtowels.

At least it is cotton. That can absorb water.

All I could think about was "checkbook".

Spouse knows better than to say the offending word, but I hear him mumbling something.......

Saturday, November 29, 2014

What Have I Become??!!

As I have said before, and I now say again, I was not meant to be domesticated.

In school I was always the competitive, athletic tomboy.

I played baseball and football and basketball.

But custom dictated ( through my parents) that I wear dresses and skirts.

I learned how to cook fancy meals (but couldn't make pancakes or mash potatoes).

I REFUSED to admit that I could type.

I REFUSED to admit that I knew how to clean a bathroom.

I REFUSED to admit that I could cook ANYTHING.

I wasn't that kind of girl.

I was headstrong, determined, and I was gonna be just like the boys. PERIOD.

Eventually, I became a lawyer and played in the big-boy courts. I had other people clean my house. I ordered a LOT of pizza and Chinese food. I even (at one point) sent out the laundry! I was just as busy and harried and impatient as the big boys.

Then I quit.

And something has been happening.

Take today.

The KIDS were coming for dinner.

So I got up and made home-made Cheez-its. And clam dip. 

While waiting for the home-made Cheez-its to finish baking, I made the salad and the meatballs. I warmed (very slowly) the spaghetti sauce. I made sure the lemon pie was perfect. Then I made the garlic bread. I set the table with place mats and napkins.

And while I had a minute or two between those chores, I finished Melvin's scarf.

 Oh, I typed out this little missive.


Yeah, I'm happy.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Harley Boos and the Mueller Dogs

LadyBug, Zelda and Mohawk
When we moved to the Central Coast we had a plethora of pets. The dogs (Mohawk, LadyBug and Zelda) and the cats (Diamond, Putter and TeezaButts) had always had a great vet in Bakersfield. Dr. Lohr was amazing with them all (and their predecessors).

But we didn't know any vets here. And I am pretty picky about vets.

The first week we were in our new home, we had a fence contractor come to put up the necessary dog fence. He did a fabulous job, didn't charge us an arm and a leg AND he raised dachshunds. Miniature dachshunds! And he brought them with him. They stayed in his truck and you wouldn't know they were there except one peeked out the window as I walked by.

I asked about the dogs. (Geez, they were cute!) In that conversation I asked who his vet was.

His answer was (and I quote) "I wouldn't take my dogs to anyone but Harley Boos."

The first time I walked into the Arroyo Grande Pet Clinic I had three dogs in tow. All three were somewhat traumatized by being in a new place. And the staff at that place made them comfortable. They were quick, efficient and in love with every animal that walked into the place.

And then there was Harley.

This big, burly man with the gentlest hands and kindest voice.

We were sold.

He helped us keep TeezaButts alive and happy long past her life expectancy range.

Of all the times that we had to go to his place, only one was sad. But it tells the story of why we now drive 45 minutes to the vet.

We had just moved to the mountain. LadyBug and Mohawk had just turned 16. LadyBug had suffered at least two strokes that Harley and his team had helped her through. And she suffered another.

I came home around 5pm and the spouse was in tears. LadyBug was curled up in her little bed and Mohawk was beside her. He had lost the use of his back legs. (A hip condition that we had been treating but was not responding to that treatment) It was obvious that it was time.

At 5:30 I called Harley's place. They closed at 6. We weren't going to make it and the coming night was going to be painful for the dogs and us. I told them it would take us 45 minutes to get there and maybe a bit longer.

They waited. The vet, the ENTIRE staff waited for us to get there.

And together we said good by to Mohawk and LadyBug.

They had come into the world 10 days apart. From the age of 8 weeks they had been together.

Harley and his people respected that.

So today when Zelda needed attention, it was a no brainer.

We see one of the other doctors now but he is as gentle and caring as Harley.

That is why we go there. That is why we will continue to go there.

(Oh, they sent Zelda a birthday card on November 15. She turned 14)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

On Flu season and Hobbies

I am sick.

Started out as a chest cold. Hacking an hewing my way through a day. Noticing that breathing is really a nice thing.

This will be over soon. I said to myself on day 1.

On Day 2.

On Day 3.

We are now on Day 6.

And today my skin starts to hurt and my joints ache.

Now I am a bit confused.

Is this getting better or getting worse?

I live in the middle of nowhere. Literally. (I use the term correctly. You would agree if you were here!)

We live at the last electric pole on this grid. That qualifies.

My point is that there is no one from whom I can get the flu!

Now it is true that THE KID has been hacking and hewing. Longer than me. So have some of our singers in VAE. But none had the flu! None have reported flu symptoms.

My guess is that Zelda is so pissed about her haircut that she had it flown in by carrier pidgeon!

Yes she looks like a sheep.

But that is another whole story and I digress.

I now feel like a fluey person that is getting better.


There has been a brighter side to this physical decrepitude.

I have been weaving. My new love.

I could do that while I hacked and hewed and even when I ached. (OK, it wasn't as bad as the flu I had in North Dakota in a73-74. But I digress again) 

Today I finished the project that was on the loom. It is a scarf. (I am still into scarves until I learn a few more tricks of the trade!)

And here it is.

Yeah, being sick is a bummer. Unless you weave!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Me? DOMESTIC?!!?!?!?!

I have retired.

With running a business and saving the world one client at a time.

(OK, for transparency--I do occasionally assist The Kid with the readin', 'ritin', and such)

I knew, when I decided to walk (actually run) away from 30 years of high tension, deadline based work (let's not forget the client's lives in my hands), I would have some free time.

So, I planned.

I determined that I might like to weave. On a loom. A big loom.

I honestly cannot say what led to this determination and I feared that it would be like so may other forays into the arts. Let's see....

oil painting in the 70's.....(please do not ask to see any of those attempts)
furniture refinishing in the 70's and the 90's. (I actually enjoyed it...sort of)
crocheting in the 60's- that was a big tangle.....

There were more but they all ended the same way.
I was simply unable to make my fingers go where my brain said to go. I became frustrated and quit each and every one.

Anyway, it was now the 20teens and I had grown aged a bit.

Then a loom fell into my lap. (see previous posts on this blog) I found a weaving class and...
off I went.

I had made the assumption that I should consider the weaving class as I did AA. Take what I need and leave the rest. I did this as I have never enjoyed the company of the people who were in the other art classes that I had taken. (I know, I know, I should be open to all people but I can be a bit of a snob when people don't know anything about government or insist that all lawyers are shysters....)

But this class was different.

Not only was I learning how to weave, I was learning at my own pace.

How did that happen, you might ask...

The instructor is not only a master weaver, she is a techy--having worked in the hallowed halls of Google, taught arts in the local schools and, in general, is an educated and erudite professional. Likewise for most of the class.

Politics and religion are NOT off the table for discussion. And it remains a discussion. When we talk.

Most of the time we are concentrating on counting threads or picks or heddles or dents. (Don't ask...)

After my first month, the instructor and I came up with a design for a scarf for me to weave at home on my own loom.

I have been working on this thing for awhile. With her help I worked through all the problems that can and did occur in this project.

Today, it came off the loom.


It started like this:

And became this:

I am already planning the next project!

This is a blast.

I think I can use the word "domesticated" but PLEASE don't tell my spouse!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

First World Problems

I expected to have a big day today.

My last active case was set for the taking of a plea.

It has taken YEARS to hammer out this deal. And today was the day.

So, I got up this morning and went rummaging for my remaining suit.

I went through "workday" ablutions.

I went out to my car.

Hum......Back tire (driver's side) seemed low. I walk around the car. The front (passenger's side) tire was FLAT.

This was not good.

We live at the end of a mile long dirt road. It is then about 15 miles to the closest town that has the type of assistance that the poor Vibe required.

Not being totally stupid, we have a tire inflation thingy. Spouse starts that up and filled both tires.

In a suit, I carefully drive to the tire emergency room. (VERY CAREFULLY)

After the expert tire doctors look at said tires, they pronounce them hopeless. They recommend removing them.

One has a sidewall puncture. The other?

Well, the other was just too frail to continue.

While properly mourning tires that had been with the Vibe for less than 3 years, I was given the news that rugged, mountain taming tires are only made for monster trucks.

"What?" My little Vibe is not entitled to reasonable protection from potholes and boulders?  (Admittedly the potholes can be bigger than pots and the boulders can come in the small economy size)

I then had to replace the not so long suffering used tires with less than top of the line new tires. Less than top of the line was necessary because even top of the line tires that fit the Vibe would be just as chewed up in about the same amount of time and would cost a good $300 more!

But Vibe needed new feet. Vibe needed to make it to the grocery store and rehearsal in one piece.

So, she has new feet.

And she likes them.

She hummed down to San Luis. She hummed back up.

And she will hum to rehearsal tonight.

I have only one question.

Why do the little "emergencies" always happen when payday is tomorrow?

Just askin'

Sunday, September 7, 2014

That was Heartburn?

So I am minding my own business. Driving down the freeway to go have a "discussion" with Verizon.

The spouse's phone (which we just transferred from a now defunct business line) was working and then......wasn't. Could not make a call out or receive a call or text.

Two days before I had spent over 4 hours on the phone with "tech support" that resulted in a decision that it was a network problem. Got a ticket number and was told I would hear from those good folk in less than 24 hours.

At the time that I was driving down the road it had been 48 hours. I had called Verizon tech support back at the number given to me by the tech support people and was told----

wait for it---

the SIM card was the problem.

It wasn't. That had been established in the four hour marathon phone call.

So I am minding my own business, driving down the freeway to "discuss" the situation.

While doing so, I get an ache in my upper left chest area.

But I go to the store and attempt to confront the poor tech person on the floor. She deflects me very well and says: "This isn't a SIM card issue." DUH?

I begin the wind up to a true "discussion" when she says: "This phone wasn't coded correctly when you transferred it. This will only take a minute." She transfers the information correctly. Phone is fixed.

But I still have this ache in my shoulder.

Now THE KID has previously advised me that should such a pain occur and continue for any amount of time, I am to go to the ER.

She has advised me (in "discussion" mode) that failure to do as she has instructed will result in my demise. Demise either by what hurts or, surviving that, by her hand for being an idiot.

So I proceed to the ER.

First question: "Can we help you?"
First answer: "I hope not."
Quizzical looks.

"I have a pain right here."

Looks of understanding and immediate reaction.

Within 5 minutes I am in a gown, in an ER bed, and a very young, cute male child is hooking me up to an EKG machine.

A little blood work, an IV line, a little of this and a little of that and the doctor says:
"I don't think this was an infarction. But you are staying the night so that we can do further testing." 

The pain finally goes away.

The entire crew is giving me praise for coming in.

I sleep.
I go home.

Stress test next week.

Just to make double sure that the diagnosis is correct.

Oh, the diagnosis?



Thursday, August 28, 2014


I had the great fortune of growing up in a town that cared about education.

My parents cared, my friend's parents cared, and, above all, the teachers cared.

I am very thankful for that.

But I have never told the stories (at least here) about some of those teachers and what they instilled in me.

Kay Nietzsche--
 She was my homeroom/English teacher in seventh and eighth grade. I remember her as tall and thin. And I remember diagrammed sentences all over the blackboards. She introduced me to LITERATURE. And women writers. She sent me to the Lindsay Public Library and Ms. Peg Burr. Between the two of them I read things that were not on any curriculum. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is the first that comes to mind. Then the Bronte sisters and even a touch of Virginia Wolf. 

Kay Nietzsche expanded my world beyond the 5,000 people in my home town. She gave me the world.

Jesse Guerrero-
Four years of Spanish. I still can't speak it beyond the very elementary stuff--Buenos dias. Como esta?--Donde esta la bana (or el bano)?  and the ever necessary  Como se dice?

But his classes were more than a language. They were an education in culture and understanding and acceptance. 

And he taught me about losing. I was a finalist for the Lions Club Speech contest. Now lets face it, speeches are my thing. And they were then. I knew that I was good. But I lost. So the next day, Mr. Guerrero gets on my headset (he could listen in and talk to you privately--it was really cool) and tells me what I did well and what was the deciding factor in giving the win to someone else. And he reminds me that learning and going forward are the biggest things in life. 

Thank you, Jesse.

Steven Hannigan-
 I am NOT, I repeat, not a math person. But Mr. Hannigan made me want to be one. It was the one classroom that you walked into and NEVER said a word unless called upon to do so. A strict disciplinarian. Or so we thought.
A brilliant man who taught the beauty of math. He gave me geometry and Algebra II and trigonometry. (Couldn't take his calculus class because of scheduling issues my senior year-I swear I could have learned it from him!)
He taught me dedication. The man had offers at major universities and he stayed in the small town so he could teach. 
And then there was the Dawn Patrol. Six AM. Yes, crack of Dawn....To learn how to use a slide rule! (Yeah, if you don't know what a slide rule is think of a computer on a ruler. Or look it up.)

Orrie Fietsma-
 Freshman English. 
What can I say about a man who taught me that it was ok to be gentle with myself. Or that it was ok to come off the arrogant pedestal that I had been raised on and talk with people outside of my family circle. Or that music was a beautiful and wondrous thing. Or that being "different" was acceptable if you accepted yourself. 
Powerful lessons.

Thank you, Orrie.

Joe Ippolitto-
My senior year I was trying to do everything. Mr. Ippolitto was my teacher for Humanities, Journalism, and my adviser on the newspaper. 
I was the school mascot. I was editor of the school newspaper. I was in GAA (Girl's Athletic Association). I was in every club I could get into.
Looking back, I know that I was trying to avoid my home situation. But then I just felt I had to do everything and do it perfectly. The paper had to be just right, I had to be the best at my athletic endeavors etc. 
Mr. Ippolitto sent me home with a "deficiency notice" telling my parents that I was working too much. 
He knew. He saw. He was telling me to be true to myself and telling them to knock it off. It took me several years to understand but through that one act--

He taught me courage.   

I could go on. There were so, so many. And they taught me so very, very much.

I continue to thank the ones still with us. I try to honor the memory of the ones that are not. 


Sunday, August 24, 2014


A few weeks ago I noticed that Diamond's left front paw looked funny. She wasn't limping or favoring it in any way so I let it go.

Then about a week ago I noticed that as she sat waiting for her dinner, she lifted that paw. And just held it in the air. 

I checked it for boo-boo's and found none. I figured she had hurt it in jumping or scratching on the cat tree. (one of her favorite past times!)

I kept watch.

She kept lifting the paw and she was slower jumping down.

Then she decided to stay in her bed and ignored the opening of the cat food can.


So off to the vet we go. 

Diamond is NOT happy about this turn of events. It is almost 30 minutes to the vet. And I was loudly scolded the whole way.

Until we get to the vet. 


Anyway, blood tests, s-rays and urine sample later, all her organs are functioning just fine.

There is a spot on her "ankle" that might be arthritis or it might be something else. 

Since we are at the "no extraordinary measures" stage of her life, she and I went home with some pain medication to "make her comfortable". 

I have been depressed about the whole thing for several days. 

I have had to fight with her to give her the meds. Mind you, they are suppose to be given sub-lingual (under the tongue). 

Ever tried to get a cat to open their mouth and lift their tongue? It is not exactly possible. 

It took me about three days to create a detente with her so that I could at least get her to not try and scratch my eyes out! But she was getting some in the mean time. 

She stayed in her cat tree bed and got up for food but nothing else. She didn't leave the room to come to our bed at night. She just stayed in the tree and stared at the wall.

Today, she "let" me get the entire dose in her mouth. 

And this is what happened:


As I write this she is staring at the string toy that Spouse made.

She is a happy kitty again!

Monday, August 18, 2014


Today I watched.

We had just had lunch together and she was driving back to work.

I was driving to my next errand.

I stopped behind a couple of vehicles. All of us waiting for the light to change.

And she walked across in front of us.

A driver ahead of me apparently called out to her.

She turned, waved, and smiled.

So confident, so comfortable in her own skin.

Do you know that feeling when your child becomes more than you thought possible?

Do you know that feeling when you see them and know that they have succeeded in life?

That moment.

When you watch them and see that they are themselves.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ordering a New Head

Ever had a migraine? They are such lovely things.

One minute I am talking on the phone and getting ready to do something and the next?  My vision "splits", I can't focus on anything, and I am down for the count. Ice bags, ice water, dark room, no sound, curled in a fetal position and screaming to my head to just go away. Not just the pounding pain but the whole head. JUST LEAVE!

Today I was lucky. I was able to sleep.

Most times I can not. Most times my body will not stay still long enough for me to shut down. Most times, I am a silent, walking zombie who complains about light and noise or just the head. God, do I hate my head.

For those of you who have never had this joyous thing happen to you, think of it this way...An atom of heat and fury travels in a minute portion of a second through your head and disrupts your brains ability to organize things. Because it is so small it does not affect all of your brain, just that little portion that lives in your head.

Now, with the little particles that enter my head, there is a special vengeance. They are a bit pissed.

They started coming into my head when I was four. FOUR!?!?! Yup, four.

Back then, and through most of my childhood, they came, I went to sleep and they left. (I found out latter that another brain altering substance was used to chase wakefulness and the particles away--phenobarbital! Yup, I was on drugs at the age of four...)

Through the years I went to various hospitals and clinics for testing. I was always told that I would grow out of them. My brother did (or so he says) but my mother did not. Neither did her father. So much for family togetherness and medical science.

Now there were periods when the little particles were banished.  But then they decided to take new routes.

They started by messing with my vision. I call it "split vision". It is not something that you see, it is what you DON'T see. For example, if I was looking at you straight in the face I could see both your eyes but not your nose. If I tried to look at your nose I would see it but not the middle of your nose. If I turn my head the same phenomenon occurs. Always the middle of the sight line but not clearly defined. It is and was always a vague area.

Then the particles decided to morph again. They went to streaks of numbness in my right hand and arm. A bit of numbness on the right side of my tongue. And the real kicker---saying my words out of order and me not being aware of it! (Did that one right in the middle of an opening argument in a murder case! That was a lot of fun...)

When I started doing major felony trials the little particles really decided to ramp up their efforts. I would be unable to see at all. Not pass out, just not be able to see. I would shake uncontrollably. I wouldn't be able to hear clearly. (I actually walked right into a wall in a courtroom. Couldn't see the damn thing!) And their little joke was that there was no headache. No pain. Just an inability to perceive, concentrate or communicate normally.

To say that I thought I was having strokes would be an understatement.

So back to the medical profession. No strokes. I have calcification "spots" on my brain that are now known to be peculiar to migraine sufferers. But they do not signify stokes or brain bleeds or anything else that modern medicine can define. (Since I was FOUR! Spots on my brain for nearly 60 years! What?)

It got to where when I was scheduled for a trial I would advise the judge and the DA that they could expect me to have a migraine at some point in that trial. If it got to where it interfered with my representing my client, I would let them all know. I always advised my clients.

(I had one judge in Bakersfield ask me if I had been cured. Idiot.)

In the last year, I went back to the medical profession because the migraines had morphed again. This time it was vertigo. The whole world was moving at one speed and my brain was perceiving it a much slower speed. It felt like my brain was physically swimming in my skull.

Neurologist number god-knows-how-many tried a lot of things. All medications and all with horrible side effects. The final determination-----must be stress.

So after a lot of thought and a lot of research, I added that to my list of pros for retiring. And I did.

And since June first I haven't had a bad migraine. Little ones that I classifiy as "gee, I have a headache". Those call for a couple of Motrin.

But today. Today those little bastards found my head again. And they used old fashioned tactics. Head splitting pain. Desperate desire to get prone. Acute sensitivity to light and sound. Did I mention A HEADACHE! A MAJOR FREEKIN' HEADACHE!!!

It ain't stress...
I am ordering a new head........

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Little Story

About two weeks ago we saw a large (very large, if you must know) pile of wood chips by the side of the road we use get to civilization.

The following day the pile had a sign that said, "FREE WOOD CHIPS".

They didn't have to ask us twice.

Spouse quickly discovered the true usefulness of the American pitchfork. Couple that tool with a pickup truck and we had wood chips.

Lots of wood chips.

Just an idea of how much Spouse brought home....

The pile AFTER the front yard was covered in 3 inches of the stuff. 

The advantages of this golden find are many. Among the biggest? NO DUST.

In a drought, with only a personal well, water can't be used for large amounts of grass. We still are nursing along the baby lilac bush, a pine tree and a rose or two but everything else just has to wait. Thus dust is a major problem.
Another advantage? Spouse got some good exercise and managed not to injure his back toooo much. (Next day walking was an adventure.)

The disadvantages of free wood chips?

1) Spouse got a lot of exercise and could hardly move the next day or two, AND

2) Spouse has a nice case of poison oak.

Can I buy stock in calamine lotion?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Camp Nelson-August 2014

Don 't let anyone tell you that the mountains are cool at this time of year. Not the Sierra Nevada mountains and not on the west side of said mountains.

It is cooler than the Central Valley. That much is true.

But cool (as in weather temperature) it is not.

Cool as in the neatest place to be. Yeah, then it is cool.

For the second time this year I was able to make it to my beloved family cabin. The Kid and I drove 4 hours to meet brother Bill for dinner and to spend the night.

A long way to go for dinner and sleeping under the stars you say?

Not when it is Camp Nelson.

We walked to the swimming hole and watched Bill's dog, Georgia, swim her little heart out. 

Well, she couldn't really dog paddling....more like dog wading.

 The river is very low.

 But it is cool in every sense of the word.

And the swimming hole remains. Someone (bless their hearts) added rocks to the dam that keeps this pool deep enough to allow real swimming.

But Georgia was too big for us to lift her over the dam and she couldn't make it over the rocks without slipping. So she was content to  wade. Rambunctiously and with great dog purpose.

And then she walked home with her "daddy".

We ate barbecued salmon, baked asparagus, sticky rice and enjoyed, with great awe, a full moon that made flashlights unnecessary. We talked and shared stories and enjoyed each other.

Was it worth 8 hours of driving in 24 hours?

First, there is time with my brother. And then, well.....

Take another look at these pictures and tell me it wasn't. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


The tests are back and the diagnosis for my friend is ALS.

It is a horrible, debilitating disease. It just slowly takes away your body. Not your mind--just your ability to function. Science has not found a cause or a cure.

And she says that she will do everything she can to live into her 90's. Exercise, eat right, keep working. All the things she is already doing. Only more so.

That's her plan. That's her outlook. That is now her passion.

That is her courage.

She will face this scary, awful thing and thumb her nose at it.

But I find myself unable to match her stubborn, to hell with it attitude. I am, for tonight, crushed.

I want to cry and hit things and throw things and scream. I want to stare at the ceiling fan as it goes round and round and not think of anything. I want to read a non-literature book and not notice the words.

I don't know what I would do if I got her diagnosis. I think I would cry and hit things and throw things and stare at the ceiling fan and walk around trying to not feel or think.

But because of her, because of her instant courage and determination, I would, I believe, at some point, get up and be stubborn and say to hell with it.

She is and always will be my friend and my hero. 

And lord knows, I can't let her be more stubborn than me! :'-}

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Something Old--Something New

Just so you know, I don't consider myself old.

I am older than I was and younger than I will be..... BUT

Exploring new ways and things does not mean you are so old that you can't do stuff.

I found the practice of criminal defense law, on a daily basis, to be toxic to me. (Yeah, it took 30 years to get to my limit. I had a good run and ruffled a lot of feathers. That was fun!)

So I began looking for other things that I would find meaningful and enjoyable. Stress was not the thing I needed to keep around.

I didn't want busy work. I wanted something more than that. Hell, housework is busy work to me

But that is another story....

I began examining weaving.

Don't know why that came to mind at the time. Maybe I was just a little warped.....

(oh, god. If you didn't groan at that I am in big trouble with my communication skills.)


I started attending a weaving class. And I found that it was fun.

A lot of fun.

Then the loom sorta fell into my lap (see previous blog posts for that story--it's a goody)

Then my weaving teacher fixed the loom and gave me a project.

Yesterday, the loom came home to stay.

Today I bought some yarn to go with the warp that the teacher had put on the loom for me.

Guess what I have been doing all evening?

I am having a really good time making something that can go on my floor or on my wall.

Geez, I like this new thing!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Taking the Bar Exam

I have a friend who will be taking the Utah bar exam next week. She is a bit freaked. And that is a good thing.

For her, I am going to bore you all with my experience with this little, life-changing challenge.

I have to tell you that the day before I graduated from law school I got married. The invitations had a sepia toned drawing of a Victorian woman and man in wedding garb. Above their heads were bubbles that stated their thoughts. Hers read: "I hope I pass my board exam" and his read: "I hope she likes my cooking". Apropos at the time. But I digress......

The day after graduation I began studying for the bar. There were less than 60 days to prepare.

I did the special studying class thing. I took practice exams. I read, reread, outlined and re-outlined study material. I made flash cards. I made up guessing games. I read and reread and outlined my study notes. I memorized mnemonics. I did everything exactly as the study class people told me to do.

And the week before the exam I shut down. I packed up the study material. I put it all in my closet.

I prepared the plastic bag of pencils, erasers, and other items necessary to take the exam. I put that in my car.

I washed and dried the clothes I would wear for three days of the exam.

My aunt had made her house available to me for the noon breaks. I called to confirm (and found out that my lunch would be ready and in the refrigerator each day)

And then I watched television.

I wasn't speaking to anyone by this time. I was too focused for conversation. I was in a world of my own. Looking back I recognize the feeling of living in a hamster bubble. I could hear and see all that went on around me but I could not (and didn't want to) communicate.

On the day of the exam, I arrived 30 minutes early. That meant there was plenty of parking close to the examination hall.

And I remember the first question. It was an essay question. (In California, day one is devoted to essay questions only--three in the am and three in the pm) It was a Constitutional Law question.

To this day, I am convinced that the question was written by the professor who had taught the First Amendment class that I had finished just before graduation. I still remembered the citations for the cases that we covered and several where implicated in the question.

I remember the woman sitting next to me putting the question aside and going on to the next.

I plowed through it.

I don't remember a thing about the exam after that.

But I do remember the advise that my aunt gave me when I called her the week before the exam.

"Gaelann, do NOT talk to anyone during the exam. Not at the exam hall, not during lunch, not at night. Someone will ask you how it is going or how did you do and you will begin to doubt yourself. Do not doubt yourself. You have worked too hard to doubt yourself."

That is why her house was open to me for the lunch break. That is why my lunch was prepared for me. That is why the house was empty of humans when I went there.

That is why my advice to ANYONE taking a bar exam is the same as I give my criminal clients.

Don't talk to anyone. And don't let anyone talk to you.

Good luck, my friend. You won't need any luck, though. You are smart and tough and prepared.
Give 'em hell!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rabbit Holes

There is news today that a federal judge (appointed by George W.) found the California death penalty process unconstitutional.

Being the trained professional that I am, I know better than to examine past acts (or cases) in light of current court rulings.


Which means, of course, that I had to look up the list of current death row inmates in California. Which means I looked up my client who resides in that particular neighborhood.

That lead to me following other Google searches to see if his appeals were about to be heard.

That caused me to find that the initial appeal had been denied last June. (He was convicted in 1999)

That lead me to read the synopsis of the denial. Which is how I found out that the major basis for the appeal was the failure of the trial court to grant MY change of venue motion. Apparently the Supreme Court found that we had 2 jurors who knew nothing about the case.

The interesting bit was that at least one member of the Supreme Court had problems with the way the issue of race was handled by the trial court. (my client was black and the female victim was white and we were in Bakersfield......) But that little problem wasn't enough to overturn a death sentence.

I NO LONGER PRACTICE!!! (I silently scream to myself)

But the anger and frustration rose in me like lava in an exploding volcano.

I was there. I saw the reactions of those jurors. I heard the judge say this case has nothing to do with race when it had EVERYTHING to do with race. I saw the press EVERY DAY. I read what they wrote.

That case stripped me of everything for awhile. I was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted after it was over.  To this day, I do not believe that my client committed this crime.

I NO LONGER PRACTICE!! (I try to calmly remind myself)

Lesson from all of this?

1-I am still a lawyer. I will always be a lawyer.

2-Avoid rabbit holes that make you re-examine cases that are beyond your control.

3-Better yet, if you are curious, remember that you are only a bystander. It is beyond your control.

And now that I have splashed you all with the detritus of my rabbit hole excursion, I shall sit on my front porch with my spouse and my dog and the three dozen or so hummingbirds that have arrived for dinner. They all (spouse, dog and hummingbirds) understand where I went today.
But now I am back.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Making Room

I have spent the last two days moving things around in the "Cat Room". And before I go into the what and why of such energetic pursuits, let me explain.

While we were living in Bakersfield, we began collecting cats.

Like other folk, I started with one.

That was Titter. Her real name was Tatterhood. (She was named after the heroine in a Nordic myth) She was a beautiful calico that I rescued from a shelter in San Diego. She survived  numerous moves and was a great mouser.

Then there was Mithy. A gray cat that appeared to have a lot of Russian Blue in his genes. He was our fighter. But he was also very affectionate. He would sit on my lap while I studied Torts (or whatever) and purr as I had my emotional responses to the stresses of law school. Mithy was VERY special.

When Mel and I met we moved to a condominium and the cats became indoor cats. And the collection began.

Titter crossed the Bridge after a kidney infection and we began looking for another cat.

And we met a woman that bred Cornish Rex cats. She lived in Buttonwillow and she was the quintessential crazy cat lady. We adopted two. A female kitten and a "retired" tom that had been neutered. They became known as Lady Tiara Rex (TeesaButts) and Spot.

But that is how the "Cat Room" got started. Spot was fine with other cats in a confined space. So we took our extra bedroom and put the litter boxes, the cat trees, and all the other accoutrements of cat living in that room.  We even put a rocking chair in there and I would sit and read out loud to the cats. Spot would crawl on my lap (and under anything that would keep him warm) and be rocked and read to by the hour.

Then we rescued two more. Enter Diamond and Putter.

But we discovered that all the cats would find a space that was just theirs in that room. There was peace. And separate bathrooms for each. (Now THAT was a chore!)

 Moving to the country meant that the Cat Room would double as my office/workroom. Which is a little odd but the house is smaller than our previous quarters. There are just two cats now and, if truth be told, I don't mind a cat on my lap!

My computer is there. My phone charger is there. Anything work related is there. The cat trees are there. The litter boxes are there. (Kept in meticulous order, thank you...) And there is a large window that provides plenty of sunlight.

But then I took up weaving. And I got a loom.

And the loom has to go somewhere.

So for two days, I moved and vacuumed (cat hair is a sneaky thing...) and rearranged. I cleaned the closet, stuffed things in boxes to go to our new storage shed, and reduced clutter.

And now there is a four foot space on a wall for the loom. 

But I have been informed that the room is still the Cat Room. But they promise to watch me weave from the assorted cat trees. They are not interested in becoming a part of the fabric..........

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Happy Birthday!

She began as a baby.  (Yeah, we all do...) But she scared me out of my wits. I didn't "know nothing about birthin' no babies!" Much less raising them. Heck, I had rarely even babysat. But there she was and it was my job to take care of her.

Orlando, Florida
And then she began to grow.
Minot, North Dakota

Sunnyvale, California
And I grew less afraid and more in awe of this child. Smart, inquisitive, and a life force all her own. She learned how to crawl out of her crib and get the left over chips from the kitchen before she was 2. (that entailed going down a full flight of stairs while her parents slept in peaceful oblivion. She came back up and woke us up asking for more chips!)

And she kept growing.

San Luis Obispo, California
And accomplishing.

Los Angeles, California
San Luis Obispo, California
San Luis Obispo, California

I am so grateful that she is here and that I get to share in her life.

Happy Birthday.

I love you more than you know.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Beautiful and the Scary

This is our piece of paradise. Secluded, quiet and, oh, so beautiful.

In Spring everything bursts forth in color and bloom.
Cactus in bloom
And it stays that way for several months.

But summer has its moments here.

Seclusion can mean isolation. And isolation is not good when sparks and sagebrush meet.

This morning when I left for court (Yeah, I have to finish up a couple of cases) there was the yellow house on the top of the ridge closest to the main road. I like the yellow house. It stood sentinel on the top of its hill and it was so bright and cheery.

But at about 5pm, I was taking out the remnants of my salad makings for the local critters (wild rabbits really do like lettuce!) I noticed a white plane with orange markings. It was VERY low, barely skimming the top of the hill in front of us and circling back behind our property. I immediately recognized it as a Cal-Fire plane.

Before I could wonder why a Cal-Fire plane was playing hop-scotch on my hills, I smelled the smoke.

With 15-20 mile an hour winds swirling from the south and south-west, we thought that the fire was behind us.

But it was not. It was coming from the west and it appeared to be very close.

Momentary panic set in as we rushed to grab the animal carriers and the computers.

That has always been our plan.

Pictures and documents are on the cloud. Animals and us and we are gone.

But then we realize that there are three Cal-Fire planes circling but no tankers. The smoke is white not black. There have been no phone calls either from Cal-Fire or the neighbors. There is no evacuation.

So we watch and wait.

And I go on the internet. Cal-Fire lists all MAJOR incidents but  minor local ones are put on their twitter feed which goes to their web site.

And that is how we found out the the yellow house was in trouble.

We walked up the road after a couple of hours (and the smoke was gone) to see how bad.

This is what we found.

The yellow house was GONE. Nothing left at all.

The amazing thing is how quickly Cal-Fire responded and how efficiently they worked. The fire could have touched the sagebrush and there would have been no stopping it. But it didn't. Because of Cal-Fire.

These guys are good.

I am glad that my neighbors are ok.

But I am thrilled that our fire protection is first rate.

We may be secluded and we may be isolated but we have protection when we need it.

Thank you, Cal-Fire.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ninety Three Years Ago

Christmas 1972
Today she would have been 93. She has been gone since June 30, 1982.

I see the picture above and my feelings are so mixed.

I miss her.

But I don't miss the addictions. I don't miss stopping at the door when I came home from school, taking the deep breath, wondering what I would find on the other side of that door.

Some days it was wonderful. She was having a good day and projects abounded. Or she was working and the house was quiet.

Other days...well, they might be quiet because she was "asleep". She might be asleep because she had a migraine (very true and she suffered with them) or because of alcohol or pills. Both used (to start with) because of the migraines or because of her "surgically repaired" back.

If I sound a bit harsh, I find that I remain a bit angry. Not at her. At the culture that put her in an untenable position. Whatever abilities she had to face the world began to erode when doctors gave her cigarettes (to calm her "nerves") and pain meds for her back.

I bring this up today because I happened to mention today's significance to my daughter. And her question to me was "did you and your mom ever talk like we do?"

I had to answer in the negative.

Do not misunderstand me. Mom and I had some GREAT fun.

There are probably still red feathers at the cabin from the making of my Lindsay Cardinal outfit. (Feathers, glue gun, and a jumpsuit--hysterical!)
Lindsay Cardinal Mascot - 1968
Then there was the time that Vicki and I got our clocks cleaned on the tennis court.

And there were a lot of those times.

But we did not talk about "things".

When I talk to my daughter, I am so grateful that we CAN talk to each other. I am thankful that we share and grow with and through each other.

And I remember Mom and I thank her. I thank her for doing the very best that she could.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Puzzle Madness

 One of the things I do to save what is left of my sanity is sing.

The other thing that I do is jigsaw puzzles.

I have posted some before.

But I don't think I have done a thousand piece puzzle that has taken me two months to complete.

I even had to walk away from it for a couple of weeks because I was getting so frustrated. 

But it is a beautiful puzzle and I really wanted to get it done.

Last night I finished it.

It is a cat.  Oh, and there is a nice little border to it. The border was a no-brainer.

The latest puzzle   

But the middle? Well, that was a bit tricky. It has another 11 cats, drawers, yarn, baskets and flowers in various colors of similar hue and density.

Take a look.

 This one, I think I shall save. It really is pretty.

Who knows, it may turn into something woven in the future.......

Thursday, May 22, 2014

It All Matters

Sometimes people are more than nice.

They may not even be friends of yours. You may know them but not well. They may have met you only in a professional capacity.

And disappear from your life.

And then reappear.

Several years ago two parents came to me to see if I could help their child in a professional capacity. They retained me and the saga began. 

They requested my services several times. And I always did my best.

They made monthly payments to me. They never forgot. But sometimes my services would be needed again before they had finished paying for the previous engagements.

Last month, the last payment came in. I was so happy because it meant that the child had not been in need of my services for a long time.

And then....

The child violated the terms of his probation.

I called the parents to see if the child was alright.

The mother and I talked for a long time. They did not need my services right now but she needed a sounding board.

During the conversation I told her of my impending retirement and she asked me what I intended to do with my time.

I told her about my (up to now, unfruitful and frustrating) search for a weaving loom that I could afford. She asked me what kind of weaving I intended to do and I told her.

And she says:
"I have a weaving loom. Would you like it?"

If I hadn't been sitting down, I would have fallen down.

How much? I asked.

"no, do you want it? I want it to go to a good home."

Ok, now I AM on the floor.

Today we drove to her home and picked up a 36" Harrisville, four shaft, six treadle loom.

Now that may not mean anything to you but to me it is a dream come true.

Her child has return to old ways and there is nothing I can do for him but she is kind enough and gentle enough to give me a dream. 

There are amazing people out there. In places that you would not expect.

And I learned something. (or was reminded of what I had already learned)

It all matters.

What you do. What you say. What you think. 

It will re-enter your life.

And sometime bring you presents.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Nature's symphony

There is something hypnotic about hummingbirds.

The sound of their wings.

The flashes of their colors.

The speed of their flight.

It all adds up to something much greater than its parts.

They don't just hover. They dance.

They don't just fly. They dart.

They are here and then they are not.

Yesterday we moved one of the feeders into the sun.

(I took these with just my phone. Sometimes I wish I had a real camera...but then again, I am not allowed around office equipment so I doubt that the outcome would have been as good.)

They darted and danced and screamed at each other. It was an aerial ballet with nature's symphony. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Pretty as a Picture

This morning seemed like a good time to check on the water tank. 

It hadn't gotten hot yet and Zelda wanted to walk.

So, up we went.

Today, unlike most days climbing our little mountain, the landscape was awash in color. Lots of color. 

Which, of course, meant I had to take pictures.

Wild flowers at the bottom of the hill
 Going up doesn't look as steep as it feels! (And those are poppies and little white snow flowers!)

Young California Poppies
 And we tread lightly to avoid the poppies.

Zelda sniffing snow flowers
I have to walk behind Zelda to keep her going. Otherwise, her nose will lead her to lots of strange places.

View to the  East from the top of the "mountain"
 This is my favorite view. The antenna for our internet and phone is up here. Best place for the solar power and the microwave connections! And the wind doth blow up here!

The water tank and the house from the top of the "mountain"
I like this one, too. It's a long way down!

On the way back
 Going down is very slow. The ground is very sandy and loose. The rivulets are from the last rain storm.
"fish rock" at the side of the trail
 We have several granite out-croppings. This one just looks like a giant fish head to me.

Close up of the thistle
We do not know the name of this plant. It is gorgeous! If anyone knows what it is, let me know. 

And that is your tour for today.

Please enjoy the rough, dusty dirt road on your way out!

What a beautiful day.