Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Here's Harry! Born April 15, '09. He got his first visit to the groomer's today and what a love. Today is his 2nd day home.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mom's Potato Salad

My Mom is no longer with us but her potato salad lives on! Best recipe EVER. It takes several days to make: one to boil the potatoes and then refrigerate them overnight. 2nd day is to make the "sauce" and then put it over the sliced, peeled potatoes and THOSE stay in 'frig overnight. So you really don't get to eat it until day 3, but it sure is worth it!
JoAnn's Potato Salad

5 lbs. potatoes, cooked & peeled
1 whole onion, large, raw
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp dill seed
1/4 tsp celery seed
2 T. sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon (or more for zing)
3/4 jar of Best Foods Mayonnaise (only Best Foods, if you use another mayo add more lemon, some white vinegar, and more salt)

Cook potatoes and let sit in 'frig overnight
Peel and cube to about 1/2" square
Place onion in blender w/ all ingredients and blend well (it will look runny)
Mix well w/ potatoes and let stand in 'frig overnight or all day
Granish w/ paprika and sliced, boiled egg


Monday, September 1, 2008

Finally! Here's Robbie on video. He is bright and beloved, a dear and devoted collie. We don't know how old he is. The vet thinks he's around 8 or so. Look at how intelligent the eyes are.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Shock of NOT Knitting a Sock

I don't knit sweaters,
I don't knit hats.
I don't knit scarves or things like that.
I knit socks.

So when I bought a chunky alpaca yarn and size 19 needles for a 15 stitch wide cartridge rib scarf, I had no idea what to expect. I needed a gift in a hurry.

HA! Two and a half hours and it was done.

I felt cheated, though, like I'd had a meaningless affair. I didn't get to k-n-o-w the yarn, it's every quirk and twist. We didn't spend hours and hours and hours together, gazing at one another. I didn't make plans or dream with it. We got down and dirty and got the thing done.

And guess what? We're getting married! I'm keeping it. It was such a clever feat to finish so quickly, it came out so lofty and lovely that I may have to change my mind about affairs. (HA again.)

Friday, November 2, 2007

I did WHAT?

I've been thinking about the amount of time I spend watching movies and television. I've been trying to find some good-sounding reasons for spending so many of the minutes of the one life I have on Earth in front of a recording of people pretending to be people who don't exist, people I never met.

??? Shouldn't I be living my own life instead of watching people pretend to live out some other lives?? At the very least, shouldn't I be reading about these folks (whom I never met, etc.) At least there would be some imagining involved.

Is this our version of tales told around fires in caves? Are there life lessons in these movies? Should I emulate these over-paid people? Could I?

What should I be doing instead? (Yes, yes...charity work, volunteer stuff....mmm hmm.) This is the question I mull over. I'm watching to relax after work. I think t.v. just hacks me up more with all its conflict, though (as if there weren't enough of this in my so-called "real" life.)

Everywhere you look and listen, people talk about the newest movies, the most popular actors. I'm ready for something new to capture the nation's attention, something uplifting and worthwhile.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Snow Globes

I was driving home today and thinking about how my view of the world comes from the inside of my head, a limited orb. It's like living inside a snow globe. There's something inside, there are lots of things moving around, but there's no going outside the globe.

It struck me that human beings are like snow globes. We are trapped inside the orb of perception, the orb of self. We can only view the world from that perspective. Born in the U.S. in the 50's on the East Coast, I can not view the world from the point of view of an Icelander born in the 80's. Impossible.

So we have an earth populated with orbs, each having a self-contained reality. How do we ever make sense to each other?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Feel the Wind Blow

Losing love is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you're blown apart
Everybody feels the wind blow

Paul Simon/Graceland

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Always On My Mind / Mom and Dad


Adjusting to Accomodating

So I went to a grief counselor at our local Hospice. What a trip.

Now don't get me wrong. I was in therapy for a goodly number of years with a talented and compassionate professional. So I've been there, looked in all my closets, and have a grip on what's fixed and what still needs work.

This woman was a fix-your-grief wanna-be. Think of every trite saying about death you can come up with. Apply them during moments when the other person is as vulnerable as possible. Make general statements like "you need goals." (Oh!) Act like you're better than the person you're talking to, like you are class and they are crap. Suggest they leave key people in their lives. Now you've got "grief therapy" at Hospice.

So the long-run lesson is this: I have to deal with it myself. I have to get all the old stuff out of my head and start looking forward before there is no more forward to look toward.

That's too bad. I was hoping for an easy out.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Grief and Family

It's not only the grief over losing the person you loved/still love. It's the family hurricane after. It's a craziness that intensifies the loss and I wish to hell it would stop.

Here's the message to the one person who's making it happen. You're the grinch who stole Christmas, who kept every single crumb, every item of sentimental value, and you've got your hand out for more. That kind of selfishness is pathetic. We were all their children, not just you.

I'm done. It's over. I'd be sad about that, too, but it's hard to miss a bottomless pit.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Hard Truth

After the sadness, after the pain
I thought I'd be free
I thought the echo of you in my mind
Would fade

I imagined liberation
I imagined your approval
I imagined silence in my head

You put a bridle on my mind
When I was small....
I wear it still.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Oh Those Family Photos!

There we are. The Fab Four. 1964. There I am, on the right. LOOK AT THAT OUTFIT! I remember the day the photographer came to our home for the pictures. We were in the living room. My mother made me wear a bozo suit: pink top, HUGE white bow with pink polka dots and a skirt to match. I don't know how I managed a smile after the FIT I pitched over the outfit. A clown suit, something you'd see on the monkey next to an organ grinder. Hop, hop, scratch armpit.

I remember those clothes with chagrin. Looking at them now, they don't look so bad. It's funny how a powerful memory, something that feels written in stone, can change under the hard scrutiny of present day. It makes me wonder if the things we remember are as true as we think they are.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Back to the Light

It's hard to see through the fence to the other side. There are plants, flowers, sunshine, my life before losing my Mom and Dad, and my before-death-became-real self. Grief is the fence, blocking me from that former self.

Grief is like a cave you fall into. There is no light, no escape from the pain of loss. The light that can be seen through the fence is the result of lots of hard work, trying to get back to my former life. The life I had before those deaths is over. I just can't let go.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Happy at the Dog Park

Life is hard sometimes. There's conflict, I don't understand things, I repeat mistakes. Sometimes it sucks -- but there's happiness at the dog park.
No matter how awful I feel when I get there, a good hour and a half of watching my two good friends have fun dilutes whatever troubles I have.
Our dog park is huge. It's larger than a football field. Collies love to run but they also love being free. Sometimes, watching them, I can see them in the hills of Scotland, doing the sheepy jobs they were bred for.
They are loyal friends, too; none of this here today and gone tomorrow nonsense. There are no misunderstandings between us. I love them dearly, feed them, take them for freedom and exercise every day and in return they make me feel that life is worth living. I call that a pretty good trade. (Because you and I might not know each other, I feel the need to tell you that it's not that I don't have anything else in my life, it's that I can accept a difficult and troubled world that also has something as wonderful as a collie in it.)
Having walked alongside both my parents through illness and up to death's door, I worry about my own old age. I have one son, whereas my parents had 4 children. So I've asked my son this: "When I get old and you are making my decisions, I don't care where I live. I can live in a cab-over camper on a pickup truck as long as I have a collie." We've both agreed that life, for me, would be a wan and wilted thing without a grand collie dog at my side.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Quilt 'n' Guilt

During my visit to L.A. my niece came over to her Mom's house and showed me some quilts she had done (photos,) and this quilt, her first. I pretended it was for me, making a clowning, "Oh, for ME? How kind!" I started to hand it back to her and she said, "I was hoping you'd like it. I brought it for you, but if you'd hated it, I would have kept it."

So I feel a little guilty taking this perfectly beautiful quilt, her first real one, but greed took over and I accepted it. Isn't it bright and lovely? Could you have handed it back?

I used to quilt, when I was in my 30's, and now she's in her 30's and quilts. It was too wonderful to resist.

She's really taking off with the craft and it's lovely to see. YAY for family, yay for my niece, yay for me.

Friday, August 3, 2007

My Sister's House

Here's a photo of my Dad as a boy. He was born in 1927. I can't get over how cute he was. Such a serious little guy. I love the suit, the socks, the hair...everything.

I went down to the San Fernando Valley to visit my sister. This was a vacation from my everyday life, not a trip to go-see-do everything possible. We sat and talked, we played with my brother's boy, a sassy 6 year old. We ate at a wonderful restaurants and we walked the mall together. I had a wonderful time both being in the present and strolling through the past with her.

There's nothing that compares with visiting my sister. She has lived in the same house now for over 30 years. I feel the same comfort and sameness I used to feel at my folks' house. Nothing had changed and I would sleep in peace there, sure of my self and the world around me. My sister's house has become a refuge like that for me now...a shelter from some of the changes and losses in my life. We laugh, we eat too much, we remember with tears in our eyes. Bless her heart for being open and generous with her love and time. Those are the things that matter in life.

My sister has tons of old family photos. I took pictures of those pictures with my beloved digital camera. With lots of editing, many of my pictures now look better than the originals.

There's nothing like talking with my sister. We have nearly the same past. We remember much of the same things. We share a world view, we share the same genes. However hard the world is, at least I have my sister.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

On Vacation

I'm on vacation until mid-first week of August. See you then!

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Call of the Past

People leave. They move away, they retreat emotionally, they leave us, they die. It's part of life.

When someone leaves you, all you have left is what you remember. There are the happy memories, where life was liquid and lovely and you were unselfconsciously a part of things, where you did the right things. There are niggling memories where you were angry or frustrated but did the right thing anyway. There are the bad memories where there was nothing you could do but watch everything go wrong, and finally, the memories where you were at fault and there's no way to change it now.

I've been dreaming about my father. It's been 4 months since he died. I see him, sometimes, the way he was 25 years ago, hale and hearty, not yet humbled by disease and disgust with his body. But I dreamt about him dying again the other night and awakened in the midst of the loss and terror I felt at his dying. My heart was slamming in my chest. I was short of breath, tears in my eyes. Oh what a horrible nightm.... oh...

The dream was a surprise because I feel like I've been dealing with his departure rather well lately. I've been thinking of his life as a book: beautifully bound, lovely illustrations, gold-edged pages, exquisite typeface. I think of his sharp wit, great mind, sharper tongue and I laugh. I miss him. I see, over and over, the back cover of the book slowly closing. I think, then, that I will never be able to open that book again. I will see him only in my mind, only through the dim light of memory.

The past has been calling to me and I've answered...wandering through the houses we lived in, the talks we had, the effort I made to connect then and throughout my life with him. The tape of his last months plays in my head, a bittersweet loop of how I tried to help him and how he resigned himself to leaving.

The past can be a vacation from the present, a time before loss. As much time as I've been spending in it, I'll have to make sure I don't get caught there.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Fish - Rupert Brooke

The Fish
by Rupert Brooke(1887-1915)

In a cool curving world he lies
And ripples with dark ecstasies.
The kind luxurious lapse and steal
Shapes all his universe to feel
And know and be;
the clinging stream
Closes his memory,
glooms his dream,
Who lips the roots o' the shore,
and glides
Superb on unreturning tides.
Those silent waters weave for him
A fluctuant mutable world and dim,
Where wavering masses bulge and gape
Mysterious, and shape to shape
Dies momently through whorl and hollow,
And form and line and solid follow
Solid and line and form to dream
Fantastic down the eternal stream;
An obscure world, a shifting world,
Bulbous, or pulled to thin, or curled,
Or serpentine, or driving arrows,
Or serene slidings, or March narrows.
There slipping wave and shore are one,
And weed and mud.
No ray of sun,
But glow to glow fades down the deep
(As dream to unknown dream in sleep);
Shaken translucency illumes
The hyaline of drifting glooms;
The strange soft-handed depth subdues
Drowned colour there, but black to hues,
As death to living, decomposes--
Red darkness of the heart of roses,
Blue brilliant from dead starless skies,
And gold that lies behind the eyes,
The unknown unnameable sightless white
That is the essential flame of night,
Lustreless purple, hooded green,
The myriad hues that lie between
Darkness and darkness!...
And all's one.
Gentle, embracing, quiet, dun,
The world he rests in, world he knows,
Perpetual curving.
Only grows
An eddy in that ordered falling,
A knowledge from the gloom, a calling
Weed in the wave, gleam in the mud--
The dark fire leaps along his blood;
Dateless and deathless, blind and still,
The intricate impulse works its will;
His woven world drops back; and he,
Sans providence, sans memory,
Unconscious and directly driven,
Fades to some dank sufficient heaven.
O world of lips, O world of laughter,
Where hope is fleet and thought flies after,
Of lights in the clear night, of cries
That drift along the wave and rise
Thin to the glittering stars above,
You know the hands, the eyes of love!
The strife of limbs, the sightless clinging,
The infinite distance, and the singing
Blown by the wind, a flame of sound,
The gleam, the flowers, and vast around
The horizon, and the heights above
You know the sigh, the song of love!
But there the night is close, and there
Darkness is cold and strange and bare,
And the secret deeps are whisperless;
And rhythm is all deliciousness;
And joy is in the throbbing tide,
Whose intricate fingers beat and glide
In felt bewildering harmonies
Of trembling touch; and music is
The exquisite knocking of the blood.
Space is no more, under the mud;
His bliss is older than the sun.
Silent and straight the waters run.
The lights, the cries, the willows dim,
And the dark tide are one with him.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I Think of You Always

Mom and Dad, always in my thoughts

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Universal In Total

This image is called The Universe In Total. I found it all over the Web.

It looks like a dandelion to me. At a glance it could be a petri dish, water under a microscope, a closeup view of sperm swimming around. It looks like a marble, looks like formica, or the inside of my eyelid sometimes. It's the night sky. It's all I can take in.

The older I get, the more I try to understand the universe. The more I try to understand, the more it all blends into one grand truth. Everything is part of everything else.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Train Kept Going

It’s like we were on a train together
The doors and windows sealed
The train going faster and faster
No stops in sight
Except that last one

Nothing I did
Or ever could do
Would change it

I looked at you and
You looked at me
The train kept going

Nothing I did’
Or ever would do
Could change it

The train kept going

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


There's something about endings.
There's the quick stab, the crying out
But there's joy behind that
And release.

There's a twinkle of hope hidden there,
A fierce affirmation of self,
Of continuing.

There's hope that life will be better
After the emptiness,
Promise of reaching out, and finding
. . . just no promise of keeping.

Monday, July 9, 2007

You Were the Kite

You were a kite
About to fly away
I grabbed your tail
And begged you to stay

You were the kite
I was the string
And when you died
I lost everything

You were the kite
Beautiful and strong
You soared away
Wouldn’t take me along

You were the kite
Who disappeared in the sky
I lay awake at night
And ask myself why

Sunday, July 8, 2007

A Slippery SeeSaw

What is it about an argument that is so painful? I tried to state my position. I tried to be clear and clean. I meant well but needed to stand up for myself. I pointed out where I was and what I was and wasn't willing to do. I took a chance. I thought it out.

I got flattened. I lighted a candle of conflict and got blasted with a nuclear missile.

I don't have those kinds of weapons to respond with. I'm not interested in annihilation.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Bless Your Heart

When I was younger I heard old ladies say, "Bless her heart," or "Bless his heart." I thought it was the stupidest thing I'd ever heard. How dumb. Like saying something as corny as that could make a difference.

As I've gotten older I've actually started saying this! A friend tells me her grandpa is 97 years old. "Bless his heart," I say. A neighbor's mother has cancer. "Oh, bless her heart," says I.

I haven't come to believe that saying "bless your heart" will change anything. It's a comment made with hope and love and sincerity. Maybe it's exactly because I can't do anything else to fix these things.

So, dear reader, bless your heart, and thank you for stopping by.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Similar Recipe, Different Results

In searching for images of the Universe online, I found this. It calls itself "the early Universe." It's just like what I imagine the beginning-of-life-on-Earth soup to look like. Hmmmm.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Socks Are Like Potato Chips

I imagine myself living before the Industrial Revolution. I imagine myself choosing a profession (which, given the roles of women in those days brings this into the realm of true fantasy) and that profession would be sock knitter.

I knit socks for fun, to relax, to keep my hands busy, for the beauty and cleverness of them, and because I don't have to ask, "Does this make me look fat?" before wearing them.

Here is a photo of the first sock of this pair. I am going to give myself the benefit of the doubt and say that another sock just like it will appear in the next 4 or 5 days.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Whole Shebang

Okay. The God thing. Let me state right here, lest the ideas to come lead you to think otherwise, that I mostly believe (most of the time) with absolutely no religious dogma or weighty books to back it up.

So some people believe and some people don't and an awful lot of people have died one way or the other. (I like the one where each person in a group goes on and on about what they believe in and then they get to the guy who says, "Me? I believe I'll have another beer.")

Take the stars...how can you look at them and think they came from nothing at all? (Oh, right. The Big Bang.) Bangers believe that the universe is in an endless cycle of expansion and contraction, (an endless orgasm of planets and galaxies,) with lots of complicated ideas about everything compacting down to nothing after having expanded out past some limit or other. (This leads to lots of mental gymnastics, trying to picture the edge of everything and imagining just one mote of dust floating around past that, etc.)

I've tried to go along with the Bangers. I have, but it's like evolution. They're as bad as the hard-core religious folks. They believe it, goddamn it, and you should, too, or you're a moron.

Evolution sounds good, doesn't it? There was nothing on earth. Just water and hills and rocks. Then there were plants. That's good. Plants are nice. Then jiggly things in the water bumped into each other and made eenty-beenty things that look weird under a microscope. (Uh-huh.) Those things somehow got together and made more of themselves. Then they kind of turned into eyeless fish, then fish with eyes, then fish with legs. They walked out of the water and turned into everything else.

WHAT??? Anyone believes this? Come on. Eyes are complicated. They are reeeally complicated. Legs? They just showed up? Sure. Believers say, "but it took millions and millions of years." Oh.

I find these ideas much harder to believe than my own version, which is this: the math says that there's a very, very small possibility that everything just happened by itself. I'm fine with the idea that some being that's too complicated for my limited, human mind to grasp gave the evolution of life some help from time to time...that it didn't accidentally turn into the complicated and achingly beautiful variety of life that exists on earth today.

Why do we have to insist we know, for certain, what happened? When did theories become fact? When I was in school everyone talked about theories, and said things like, "We think..." and "We believe..." Now everybody knows for sure -- until they don't.

Monday, July 2, 2007

There's Nothing Like A Collie

There's nothing like a collie. Robbie is the rough coated tri color, and Jazzy's our smooth coated collie. Both are smart, sweet, loyal, and great companions.

These dogs go to the dog park every day. I mean e-v-e-r-y day. Our dog park is larger than a football field, perfect for their far-ranging collie selves. They keep an eye on us while acting as greeters for all the new comers and, in Robbie's case, policeman for the entire park full of dogs. No fights or aggression allowed when he is there. He breaks up squabbles and keeps an eye on known offenders. He's a great, great dog.

Jazzy is gentle and sweet. We've only had her for 2 months now and so she is still blossoming.

While this may be mild info to others, these two are my good friends and contribute greatly to my happiness.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Fallen Poppy

Walking in Solvang, CA I saw a fallen poppy. This was a week after my father died. The last year of his life I called him Poppy. It's funny how one thing can mean another.

A Loss So Great

My father died on March 19th, 2007.
Imperfect and brilliant, he was my Dad
and I loved him dearly.


My mind understands that you are gone.
I can say the words, recall the details
But my heart, Dad. My heart.

Sometimes, just for a minute
I think I’ll be fine.
Then my heart boomerangs back to your house

A house of echoes and unanswered phones
Empty bed, where you lay so long
And I’m shattered again.

Even though I knew you were dying
I couldn’t see it, wouldn’t see it
I thought you were strong enough to stay.

And when I saw that you weren’t
I thought I’d be strong enough
To keep you here. I was wrong.

I’ll always remember. Forever remember
And love you.
So long, Daddy. So long.