Monday, July 31, 2006
Oh, dear, poor Mel Gibson got his admittedly beautiful butt thrown into jail for a DUI, and his behavior made William Wallace look like a fairy. We who have been there kind of snicker up our sleeves. I just want to take him aside and tell him to get over it, booze releases the most vile thoughts and language known to mankind. The good news is he will most likely be assigned to meetings, if not rehab, and may, if he's ready, stop menacing the Pacific Coast highways in his spiffy new Lexus. Mel is not known for his egalitarian viewpoint, (vis a vis that dreadful movie about Jesus, that totally missed the whole point of just about everything,) and a good dose of humility at an AA meeting might just do the trick. Anyway, I understood his whole attitude problem, and that is kind of a sad revelation for this old woman. No one is at their most attractive when drunk off their gourd, and pissed off, to boot. For we who have been there, though it may seem like the worst thing that could happen, being very publicly embarassed by his behavior may be the very best thing that could happen to dear old Mel. Falling down only means learning how to walk in a different, and sweeter way.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Once upon a time, I thought bicycle people, those skinny, day-glo spandexed people with the funny bullet shaped helmets, were healthy folks, and felt kind of intimidated. Then I met a bunch of them, out of the saddle, so to speak, and this tres soignee art event in Mill Valley, the Berkeley of Marin County. They were all pencil thin, very French, smoked like chimneys and drank like fish. They spoke of pedalling off their hangovers. (And what is it with French men, that curly upper lip thing, man, that is so hot.) After that, I kind of curled my lip whenever I encountered them on my drive in from the house on the edge of the world, on the windy, narrow roads that wind through West County, along the coast and beside the river. What a pain they are. And today, I made what should have been an ease-filled decision to drive out to WalMart after my morning meeting, get some school supplies, MilkBones, and bubble bath, you know, the essentials. Instead of breezing out Old Redwood Highway, I got stuck looking at the backend of this big red pickup truck for about half an hour, while all these bicycle folks breezed through the intersection. Whoever was directing traffic had his head up his wazoo, for sure. I finally followed a bunch of adventurous folks and clipped through the vacant lot on the corner, bouncing off the curb as a result. Before that, I got to notice there were some hefty riders, too, some buxom ones, and some who were older than dirt. And still annoying, kind of like a swarm of mosquitos. Even if they don't bite me, I dislike them, on principle.
Friday, July 28, 2006
And found again. There are all these pickups in front and people tramping around above me, loudly. My house is being reroofed. Funny, when they told me I would get my new roof on Wednesday, I thought they meant just that. Instead, it is Friday, and it is not done yet. I thought I would mow the lawns this afternoon. I cannot even see the front lawn, it is so littered with materials. And I think that is just the stuff they put underneath the shingles, so they haven't even started them yet. It amazes me how much noise these people can make up there. My smoke alarm fell off here in the office, and my stove is all flecked with stuff sifting down through the vent. There is a great big piece of something, probably a gutter, caught in the tree and camellia bush right outside my window. Boo sits with his ears pricked, and every so often lets loose with a half-hearted bark. We are both becoming inured to the noise and hubbub, though for a while, I fully expected one or more bodies to break through the ceiling like James Bond or Ultraman. I go around muttering "it's temporary, it's temporary". OK, I could leave. But wait! I am parked in my carport, and there are two trucks blocking my driveway! Aspirin, I need a Bayer's! Now!
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Well, I was feeling lumpy and dumpy this morning, so I went shopping. Actually, I needed a couple of things, like greeting cards for my Leo friends, more water, some Diet Pepsi, stuff like that, but the joy of being in public is I get to see that most of the world is as lumpy and dumpy as I am, and much is even more so. This heatwave is getting really old. I remember many hot days growing up here, though we lived west of here, in a tiny town, and used to feel pretty superior because it was always 10 degrees cooler where we were than for the poor folks down in the valley, which is where I now live. And, when it got mega-hot, it usually snapped, and was cool again, with fog pouring in from the coast. Not happening now. Instead, it is cooling every day by a few degrees, so this afternoon, it is in the high 80s while yesterday was in the mid 90s. The best thing is that it will once again be down in the 50s tonight, when it really counts. Still, too hot to actually cook anything. Salad, again.
Friday, July 21, 2006
It's hot. Probably, it is hot everywhere, but the really important fact is that it's hot where I am. So I do these little rituals, like closing the drapes on the western side of the house early, and closing the windows and blinds when the air outside gets warmer than the air inside, futility of course, but it provides the illusion that I am keeping the house cool. At some point in the evening, I open it all up again, usually when the house is hotter than the air outside. The ceiling fan helps; it doesn't cool anything down, but it keeps the hot air moving, always preferable. And in the midst of this, this very sweet man is systematically dismantling the back room to repair the water damage in the wall from this winter's storms, much noise and dust. I can't even remember last winter's storms, can you? Just seems like it has been hot forever. Boo is in summer mode, and spends most of his day on the bed. Actually, that is winter mode, too. Do you suppose that's what they mean by "dog days"? Whatever. So I spend every evening watering something, and the lawn still looks wilted. Watering is cooling, though, and provides the illusion that I am nurturing my home. Right.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
I measure my sanity level by my reactions to me forays to the supermarket (Trader Joe's and Costco don't count here). In my relationships, trips were often harried interludes in otherwise full days crammed with work, kids, housework, etc. I remember a day when I walked 10 blocks with a grocery cart and stroller, child attached, only to turn around without any food because the kid threw such a tantrum, I was totally embarassed to have him seen in public. Fortunately, that was a one-time incident. In the City, you couldn't buy meat on Sundays or after 6 PM, so there were many emergency meat runs on Saturday at 5:45. In my single mother days, I was often overwhelmed by grief in front of piles of firewood when I no longer had a fireplace. Later, during my third marriage, I would sail through Safeway with a cart heaped to overflowing, second child in her babycarrier, terribly efficient, eschewing the Prego for Contadina, fresh basil and chuck roast to grind myself at home. I even ground my own baby food; no processed Gerber's for our little princess. After that divorce, I really lost it shopping for wine and more wine, never enough wine. When the last kid went away, there were crying jags in the cereal aisle. Now, I do minimalist shopping; one avacado, some broccoli, two bananas, a quart of milk, some Milkbones, and a couple ounces of walnuts. Sometimes I watch the older women shopping for their husbands, carts full of bacon and eggs and popping fresh rolls, and I feel a little wistful. But then I come home to my little Boo and Phoebe-the-budgie, the peace and quiet, and I am happy. Life is, well if not good, at least interesting.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
I was a charter subscriber to O, which is Oprah's mag, a wonderful slick full of uplifting articles, stunning fashion, and elegant things to pine for. Often, she asks celebs to name their five or so favorite books, and they are always so varied and thoughtfully chosen, things like the Bible, and Moby Dick, and War and Peace. Mine are a little more prosaic, and mundane. Jane Eyre, the grandmother of the gothic novel, and Rebecca, it's modern counterpart. Atlas Shrugged, that obtuse and very long tome by Ayn Rand, the consummate capitalist. Gone with the Wind, I read it the first time when I was just 12 and at that time, fell in love, not with Rhett, but with Ashley. Go figure. I liked blonds. And for esoteric consideration, The Prophet, so beautifully rendered I always cry when I read it, especially that part about children being the product of life's longing for itself. There, see, I have teared up just thinking about it. And I would add anything by Janet Evanovitch, Sue Grafton, Jonathon Kellerman and Patricia Cornwell. Oh, and Jennifer Cruisie and Susan Isaacs. OK, I like to read. A lot. Laurence Saunders, John D. MacDonald, Robert Parker, Nelson DeMille. So many books, so little time.
Friday, July 14, 2006
God bless Star Wars. I truly believed Obiwan's concept of the Force, this great, benevolent energy that could be channeled, for good or evil, available to everyone, even Darth Vader. I had a license plate frame that read "May the Force be with you" on my silver blue 280Z. It was my first attempt at honoring spirit in my life, and long before the real journey began. But it was a gesture, and Great Beloved pays attention to gestures. Now I see spirit everywhere around me, even in my pseudo-lawns, which are now ragged and dotted with weeds that seem to be set to fast-forward, great sprouts hanging there above the low-lying ones that spring like spiders in all directions. I just keep chopping them down, and they just keep jumping right back up. My new thing is a weedeater, borrowed from a friend for a week to see if I am a weedeater sort of person. So far, I don't think so. Hurts my back. I think I am more a hire-a-weedeater-person sort of person. We'll see. If it was light enough to not hurt my back, it would not do the necessary work to cut down my macho weeds. Live and learn, that's my motto. And, in the process, grow. Like a weed.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
So, I threw half a MilkBone to the Boo, and set out for the grocery store at the end of my street. What a treat that is! In the house on the edge of the world, groceries entailed a 30 mile round trip and a large part of a day. After crossing the surprisingly busy cross-town avenue, I entered this delightful place, grabbed my cart and whirled off to the produce section for fresh veggies: broccoli, asparagus, walnuts, and an avacado. Then to the dairy section for my most needed item, milk for my new cranberry-Macadamia nut cereal I got at Costco on Monday. A package of Swiss cheese later, I was done, and standing in line, reading the awful news that Stedman has written a tell-all about Oprah, and Hillary Clinton is (gasp!) gay! As I stood poised over the green button waiting for the checker to finish, I took a look around, and noticed that everyone shopping with me was, well, old. And I thought, these are my people! The retired ones. That's me, too. This theme continued out into the parking lot. Everyone who shops at 11 AM on a Wednesday has white hair and wrinkles. I do, too, but my gray is covered with bright red. On my way home I realized that 15 years ago, when I lived just a few blocks away, I used to look down Wild Rose Drive, and kind of sigh as I went by. It always looked so sweet and cool and inviting, with the sycamore trees tunneling the pavement. And I was looking right at the little yellow house that I now live in. What can I say, it's a God thing.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
I can tell I have way too much time on my hands. I am obsessing about my hair, again. For years, I wore it very short. It was my signature look. Only problem was that they always cut it too short in the beginning, and I spent half my time growing it out to a reasonable length, which it stayed at for only a couple of days, then it was time to get it cut, again. So, when I moved to the house on the edge of the world, I let it grow out. Long. Really long. Then, because I got tired of hitching it up to keep it out of my food, I decided on a chin-length. Too short. Now I am at shoulder-length, just right. It will stay there for about a week, then, too long, again. Sigh. Wind is my mortal enemy; it swirls my hair all around, and makes it stick to my lipstick. Eeeeyouuu. It is nice to be able to clip it up in one of those dandy clippy things, though finding just the right one is tricky. I have a bag full of those gizmos, and only about half of them work for me. Some are too big, others too small, and some just don't hold in my hair, which is slippery. Even bobby pins will slip out of it. Sigh. I also have a wardrobe of scrunchies, which my daughter tells me are now passe. Never mind. I wear them anyway. Now I am back to my teenaged signature do, a pony tail. And don't even get me started on hair color.
Monday, July 10, 2006
I feel really weinie about complaining about our weather here. We don't have hurricanes, tornadoes, torpid humidity, blizzards or ice storms. No need for snow tires or storm windows, and for most of the year, air conditioning, though our affluent citizens might disagree. Summer here in our county is often overcast mornings followed by sizzling afternoons and cool evenings. It is not unusual for the temperature to vary 50 or 60 degrees in one 24 hour period. And I don't care how hot it is during the day, as long as it cools off at night. In my youth, summer meant swimming lessons at Ives Memorial Pool, just down the hill from my house. My mother was fanatical about me learning to swim as she could not. Anyway, the more proficient you were, the earlier your lesson. I spent many years in beginners, in the sunshine at 11 AM. The teacher, who was my second cousin and Cosmo beautiful, finally passed me because she was sick of seeing me among the babies. Intermediates was a breeze, and I moved into swimmers really fast. That class happened at 8 AM, and it was always foggy and cold. The pool was heated, of course, but getting out was agony. Most of my summer mornings were characterized by blue lips. Lifesavers was the worst, it began at 7 AM. A personal triumph, though. I managed to pick up and sling my 185 lb. boyfriend across my shoulders in a fireman's carry. And I dove into the shallow end, fully clothed, and saved my snotty not-my-cousin teacher in the deep end. She tried to fool me, sinking to the bottom, and then struggling once we emerged at the surface. Instinct kicked in, I straight-armed her, whipped her around and hauled her to safety. A shining moment for a 15 year old. And I got to teach swimming in PE when I was a senior. How sweet is that!
Friday, July 07, 2006
There is a thin line between self-care and self-indulgence for me. I was brought up to never think of myself, always put others first, beginning with my mother, my little brothers, and closely followed by the rest of the world. Thinking of myself was selfish, and that word was synonymous with evil in my mother's lexicon. I continued to believe this well into my forties, when I would wear my underpants till they were so butt-sprung that they hung around my knees rather than bear my husband's wrath for spending an extra buck. OK, I inherited this martyrdom complex from my mother, and I thought it the height of dignity. It is only poetic that I now swing in the other direction. It is more likely than not that I will throw a sweet little t-shirt or a paperback book into my cart on my weekly Costco runs. I own over 70 pairs of underpants, in varying degrees of comfort, size and cuteness. In my lifelong battle with food, luscious has won out hands down, but I am able to maintain my weight with exercise and portion-control, too. It turns out that, to be truly happy and available to all those who may need me, it is absolutely imperative that I be scupulous in my self-care. If I don't have it, there is nothing left to give. It's just that it is so difficult to find the proper balance here. So I compromise. Most of my self-indulging binges are bargains. Really.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
My favorite bumper sticker is "don't believe everything you think". Take my mother (please). If she thinks it, it is not only true, it is the definitive truth. And, she is obligated to say it, too, no matter how tacky or mean-spirited it is. My reality is a lot different. I get to think all kinds of stinky stuff, but it is not OK to say it out loud, for anyone else to hear. Instead, I write it in my journals, yell it to God in the car, and share it with a few friends who accept me, warts and all. My thoughts are not particularly pretty most of the time. I wish they were, really I do, but I am remarkably human. My words, now that's another story. I try to be honest and kind at the same time, a real tricky proposition. And I think I am much too passive a lot of the time, but it beats an unkind retort. Anger is new to me, too. Usually, I would get depressed rather than express any anger. Now I let off steam in exercise and hard work, like gardening, and pushing the lawnmower around on my hilly backyard pseudo-lawn. I suppose you can tell that I am chewing on a really big wad of disappointment at the moment. Someone I love is hurting herself, and reality dictates that I let her do that. Just trying to stay healthy enough to help her, should she ask for it later. Her reality is in collision with mine. And I am shaken up here. I can tell because I made myself peach pancakes with whipped cream, cinnamon, and sliced almonds for breakfast, and lunch will again be sushi with wasabi. Reality is that comfort is something I put into my mouth, not something that comes out of it.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Independence day, that is. My memories of 4th of Julys past include vicious sunburns and atrocious hangovers. Shivering through fireworks under a blanket on a damp lawn, and sitting for hours trying to get out of the parking lot afterward. And what's with all these concerts on television? That's like having pretty furniture encased in plastic wrap. Concerts are only worthwhile in person, don't you think? And how irritating that my soap opera will be preempted by them. And no mail. Stores are closed. Nuts. So, I am ignoring the whole thing as much as possible. Plans include a walk for me and Boo, some laundry, some yardwork, and finish the existential pear painting. And tonight, cuddling with my little Boo to soothe him through the noisy pyrotechnics from the fairgrounds, just two miles away. Now, that's independence.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Well, I thought it was pretty awful when I shredded the hose by running over it with the lawnmower, but yesterday, my micorwave died. It was only 17 months old. Usually, it takes me five years to kill a microwave. And you know how it is with small appliances; to get them fixed costs at least $50, and it costs only a little more to replace them, so, byebye (big honking) microwave. (The only thing wrong with it was that the latch broke, and the door would not shut any more, and it won't run with the door open, how prosaic is that. Just like my laptop, that died because its power connection came loose from the motherboard. Sigh.) It really was a monster, squatting there by the stove, taking up the whole end of the counter. I only use it to reheat leftovers, cook a frozen burrito, make tea, or defrost a chicken breast for dinner. I really didn't need that huge thing. So I bought a smallish one, $43 at WalMart, just the right size. And it does just about everything the other one did, except that message that told me to "enjoy my meal". (Never mind the fact that I was just heating up my coffee.) Now it just says "end". This is my fifth microwave in about 20 years. Maybe I am too heavy-handed to own small electrical things. You think?
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Long, long day, all spent standing up or walking around. The gods were good to us, though, it was not terribly hot, and we found an ideal place to paint, under a little tree by the lake. I dressed as I assumed an artist would: cargo shorts, tank top, big denim shirt and sensibly comfortable, big leather sandals. Oh, and my slouchy straw hat with a sunflower pinned on it. I found that I was right in fashion, though overalls might have been better. I selected the vista across the lake that included the Marin Civic Center, a Frank Lloyd Wright creation in pastel blue and creamy stucco. My painting was mediocre, as I am a fledgling still, and just happy to be out doing it. I did not win anything, except the satisfaction of braving my own fear of inadequacy. And I am awfully whipped today, after about 9 hours, mostly on my feet. The paintings are on display for the rest of the fair, and that's sweet enough for me.