Thursday, May 31, 2012

My daughter M picked me up from the airport today wearing a shirt as blue as the ocean. Why does it amaze me that she is a grown-up? Why does it seem both like yesterday and a million years ago that I dropped her off at college with the split between her dad and me still running off us like fresh blood? In the car M and I talked about family and the narrow ideas that some still hold about what that means. M and her sister have a brother who will be 42 this summer. The younger of their two brothers born to their dad and his new wife has not yet celebrated his first birthday. Our family is bi-coastal, multi-racial and cultural, straight and lesbian, Democrat and Republican, carnivorous and vegan, smoking and non, atheist, Hindu, Catholic, and god-knows-what. We are deep and wide and not necessarily the calm blue ocean. We are tsunami just as much as we are tranquility, and almost five years out from the end of my marriage I see more and more of the shoreline of the continent of my happiness. And oddy, much of that happiness is due, I think, to my divorce. We are the sum of our experience, and experience is mysterious and deep.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Everything I re-learned about parenting, I learned from a dog

My son and his family have left Margaritaville and gone on to SeaWorld and Legoland. I am dog-sitting. "Sandy" is a rescue from the pound--an adorable rat terrier who smiles and could win any speed eating contest paws down. She's crate trained and when we all call it a night, my daughter-in-law calls,"C'mon Sandy, let's go night-night." The agreeable little beast runs into the crate and plops into her bed. For my daughter-in-law, that is.

Last night it wasn't really that hard to get the dog into the crate--though she didn't go in when I called to her. We danced around a bit, and when, after a minute or two,  I asked her in my serious dog-sitter voice to "sit," she did sort of a civil disobedience flop, and I scooped her up and put her in her pen, repeating sweetly, "Go night-night, Sandy." I switched off the lights without any further cajoling and went upstairs.

The howling commenced just as I settled under the covers. The calls were lonely and sad at first. I waited a bit, but it became evident the dog was winding up, not down. "Sandy," I said sternly from the top of the stairs, "No!" Full-out howls escalated into little siren-like wails. You would have thought that every dog on the planet had died, and she was the one left to mourn the passing of a species. I tried the stern "No" a couple more times. Then I brought the poor creature and her bed into my room. She walked around for what seemed like hours. Her tiny rat-terrier toenails tapping against the wood floors like a troop of angry fairies.

I remember when my children were babies. It was ridiculously hard work. The love alone, and the way it rearranges every priority you thought you had is so disorienting you spend those first months trying to get your bearings, stunned that motherhood tenderizes your heart in ways that are both terrifying and transcendent. And you undergo this personal re-modeling job while sleep-deprived night after night for months on end.

When Sandy woke me this morning and I walked her down to the patio to pee, she smiled at me. When I opened my car door, she was ready to hop in. We drove back to my old place--a house she's never been to. This cheery rat terrier who joined my son's household with an extreme fear of men, and for the second time in a week, is at a new house with new sounds and new smells, well into day two without the people who rescued her. She's had to learn it's not okay to bark at the cat--a questionably-groomed 18-year-old who lives on one end of my couch and sips special milk from a bowl on the end-table. That the helicopter flying over isn't here to kill her. That the grevelia leaves won't crush her if one falls on her. And yet, here she is at my feet, pawing my leg to get onto my lap. It's amazing how love lets us adapt. One day you can be in the bedlam of a shelter, and the next you are napping on the floor in a nice house with children who want to hold you like a baby. And then after more bliss than you could imagine, you find yourself in a new place with a stranger who drives you to yet another strange place.

Both man and beast are hard-wired for survival. I think we're hard-wired for love, too. It's adapting to those damn changes that's the hard part.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Boatload of Things I Don't Know About My New Life

Just a little while ago a man in a black wetsuit, complete with hood, pulled up to my dock in a small motor boat, afixed a mask to his face, and dove into the water. There was a piece of equipment yammering in the background. The marine equivalent of the "mow, blow, and go" gardener? Removing barnacles? I have no fucking idea. It went on for a while. If this were a Harrison Ford movie, I'd be kidnapped and held for ransom by now. Men resembling slick black seals would have tunneled  under my house and bean bag chairs? My airbed? What the hell. Probably some kind of  marina beige-world HOA sponsored barnacle removal, I guess. But mine was the only dock he visited.

Yesterday while my son and his family and I waited to board our boat for the Wildlife Viewing Cruise to Anacapa Island, we witnessed the orientation for a kayaking session. I was secretly relieved that there were two women my age in the group. I'm going to be in their shoes soon....admitting that I know nothing at all, really, about kayaking.

Last week I had to leave a check for 35.00 dollars and a form I didn't understand under the doormat so the backwash testing folks could come do, yeah....testing my backwash. Whatever.

I'm going to buy a bunch of kayaks.
I'm going to buy a boat.
I'm going to change my life.
Let's hope I float.

Do Not Change the Channel

Like many children, my grandchildren have been raised on TV and videos. Staring at a screen first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and plenty of time in between. I don't hanker for the chirp and drone of the TV in the background as company, and during visits from my son and his family, I would often turn the TV off when I found that no one was really watching it anyway. This visit things were different. I have no TV here at my new house. Yes, they came with their various small screens, but I think the ocean proved to be more mesmerizing. "Can we go back to the beach?" was the refrain of the past few days, and we grown-ups obliged.

We even took a boat ride to Anacapa, one of the The Channel Islands. A large sea lion lounged on the edge of a boat dock setting up the expectation for wildlife even before we left the harbor. Thirty minutes or so out into the ocean, the dolphins arrived. Dozens of them in the distance at first, and then scores mores, rocketing closer and closer until they were almost close enough to touch, racing along side of the boat or leaping out of the water. A couple of seals popped their heads up, too, and there were more sea lions than we could count on the rocks near Anacapa. Sea gulls hovered above, and squadrons of pelicans were so numerous they became practically became mundane.

I tried to mitigate the media's influence with my daughters, allowing only an occasional video or TV show when they were little and, starting with kindergarten they went to Waldorf School where TV, movies, videos, computers and electronic games of all kinds were discouraged altogether. I felt like I was only partially successful when I was in the thick of it all, and would have probably caved far more often if it weren't for the support of our Waldorf school community. It's so clear to me now that nature is the only real competitor for the pull of the media. And kids want to do things. Sitting means flipping a switch and waiting to be entertained. Being out in a boat on the water, chasing the waves, digging in the sand, playing outdoors, walking the dog, doing chores--there's a satisfaction to all of those things that doesn't seem to crave passiveness.

The flat blue water we were lucky to sail on yesterday was almost like a screen. And real live animals popped right out of it.  I love you, Mother Nature.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My House: The Aviary of Desire

Yesterday I heard moaning. You know, "Oooooh, Ooooooh, Oohhhhhh." I was sitting in my living room with the patio door open, and the moaning seemed to be coming from upstairs. My upstairs. I was home alone...or so I thought. 

Two pigeons were perched on the balcony off the master bedroom, and well....they were in a rather interesting position. One of the birds was straddling the other bird's head while the cooing continued apace. I raced downstairs to get my camera, but when I arrived back on the scene, they'd separated.

This morning, as I made us fresh carrot-apple-kale juice, the man who loves me read an article to me that he'd just stumbled upon on the Internet. It  began like this: "Do these beetles have oral sexBy the window of a country house I found two celeoptera performing an incomprehensible dance for me: the ..."  I'd include the link, but have only been able to come up with this message when I search for it: "But the Requested data is not available Currently." Perhaps too many people have read the article and now no one is at work.

It's spring. As Cole Porter sang, "Birds do it. Bees do it. Even Educated Fleas do it." Soon the heat of summer will be upon us. Enjoy those balmy breezes now before the urge to eat ice cream and drink beer engulfs you in lethargy.

photo of cliff swallows' nest under my eaves

Just remember, this could happen to you. 
Not to me, fortunately. But perhaps to you. Baby birds will be peeping soon. Parent birds frantically feeding them. Defending them. Protecting them. Teaching them to fly. 

swallow's nest #2--with a third in progress

Have a lovely evening, dear readers. Look at the moon as she fills herself up. Savor the coming of the sweet dark before summer delivers its longest day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Angry Birds

It's hard to say what the neighbors thought if they saw me leaning out of my bedroom window wiping my window-washing drips with a wad of paper towel clasped in a pair of tongs. The squeegee-sponge gizmo worked well, but I couldn't quite get the proper angle to apply the requisite pressure to the squeegee on the window that was the hardest to reach. The alarmed swallows threatening to peck my eyes out while defending their nests (yes, there are two of them now) added to the drama. I washed the wall of windows in the master bedroom one at a time, mindful that the swallows might need a break from all the stress. I certainly needed a break from wondering what would possess a builder or an architect to create the odd combo of double-hung and sliding windows that are difficult to access for washing from the inside. There is a rather handy ledge, but having seen those architectural trim pieces at Home Depot that appear to be made out of something like styrofoam, I couldn't help but wonder if the ledge might crumble. Plummeting to the patio would be very inconvenient.

I washed all the windows on the second floor that could be accessed today, running the screens down to the patio for hosing and then back up again.

I applied privacy film to the lower panes of my bathroom windows, so that now I can run stark naked through the bathroom--which is what one often does in the bathroom. Even though my neighbors windows look directly into my bathroom, it's now possible to lie in the tub unobserved while still seeing the sky through the upper panes. And window coverings are now unnecessary.

Another builder/design conundrum: If you are going to put  giant windows in a bathroom--windows that require shades or blinds, being able to access said shades or blinds without climbing into the bathtub and then out of it onto the far edge of the bathtub to do so would be sensible.

I unpacked boxes, moved boxes around from here to there, and swore at the boxes that are too heavy. I think I'm going to ask anyone who visits to carry a box of books up the stairs if they are able.

I washed linens and put them on the two new beds.

I made four stacks of sheets and blankets, getting ready for an onslaught of grandchildren.

And tonight, I'm going to sleep in a bed here for the first time.

The air bed is pushed into a corner waiting for guests. Hear that? It's me sighing with contentment.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I didn't notice the San Pedro Street trees at first. The jacarandas are blooming, and Little Tokyo is stealing the show, ringed by the jacarandas' purple curtain. The trees on San Pedro street are not in blossom. They do not tower over the people on the sidewalks or reach up to the windows, but these trees on San Pedro Street are giants of possibility. I learned about them from a student of mine at the DWC. A tree saved her life once. You can watch for her story on the Trees on San Pedro Street Project blog.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How I Came to Have a Glass of Wine at 9:45 a.m.

Yesterday I washed all of my downstairs windows. I bored myself with speculating about how much it would cost to hire it done, and finally went to Home Depot and bought a combo sponge/squeegee thing on a pole along with a bucket a bottle of "professional" window washing stuff and just did it. Then when the closet remodeling guys finished I sped back to Home Depot and bought a quart of flat white paint and painted all the parts of the closets that needed re-painting. My closet is so fabulous I should throw a party in it. Girlfriends only. We should hire someone who does nails and sit inside at a little table with a white linen tablecloth and have tea and sherry while we get our toes painted.

But I digress.

After the painting I realized there was absolutely no reason for me not to move into the master bedroom now that the floor and the closet are both finished, so I hauled the airbed+dogbed (yes, I've been sleeping on the orthopedic foam that used to belong to my now deceased dogs) up the steps. I might as well move the rest of my stuff up there, too, I said, at sometime around 9:00 p.m., so I did--and mind you, it's not a ton of stuff. A bunch of sweaters, two pairs of pants, two skirts, my favorite cowboy boots, and a bunch of t-shirts and some workout pants that I have not yet worn here in my new location because who needs to work out when you're moving things up and down a flight of stairs? And finally, I vacuumed once again re-cleaning the leavings of a troop of workmen. Oh, they try with their fancy shop-vacs that look like tool-boxes, they do, but, alas.

Am I digressing again?

So after I breathed enough paint fumes for one day, I went to bed.

I woke early to the light that seemed silver as it came in my curtain-less windows and, I woke to the sound of water lapping, because unlike at my old place when one frequently wakes to a police helicopter flying in or out after a shift change, here it's the harbor patrol making their rounds, and after they putter by, the water laps against the boat docks. Invigorated by the idea of waking to lapping water, I hopped up and moved all the now very dusty boxes of books in my garage into the laundry room/entryway and stacked them on the counter while mourning their dustiness. Then I organized the crap (which is not really crap at all) that the former owner left. I have great squares of travertine or tile that looks like travertine; (how do you tell the difference?) I have extra stone tiles, and smaller squares of travertine, and now they are all in one  place, neat and tidy. After that I tore up dozens of cardboard boxes that the wood for my floor came in and fit them into the recycling bin. (I could have had the hauler haul them away with other debris last week, but gosh, no, maybe they would be useful, I thought. Arrgh) Then I thought about all the other things I wanted to do here today.

And I realized the bowl of blueberries I'd had for breakfast left me starving. So I poured out a mound of crackers, spread them thick with my favorite cheese, D'Affinois.....and, well, what does cheese need? Wine. And I thought of years ago, when I was in France for a semester, and how the proprietor/chef of the little hotel where I stayed took took turns taking each of us American students to the open air market  to shop for what he would cook that day, and how afterwards we'd stop in a bar for a breakfast of eggs and steak and red wine. That was how Monsieur Camarani started his day.
One glass, mind you.
It was perfect.
Then--and now.
I ate a yam with butter afterwards, and before I drive back to my old place, I'm going to work some more, and then make a fabulous salad with avocado and strawberries.

Gawd, I've become one of those people who use the Internet to tell the world what they're eating.

Which has some merit if your grow or hunt what you're eating. Or if you're a wonderful cook.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bird of the Day X 3

Swallow. Perhaps Cliff Swallows since these birds do not exhibit the "deeply forked tail" of the barn swallow.

Yesterday, as we were enjoying my patio, my friend Michael pointed out the mud nest under my rafters. Wasps, we thought. Then today as I was washing my windows, I noticed that the nest has quite a large entrance. I put it all together then--the swooping chattering birds outside my living room, the mud nest.

And as a bonus, a Great Blue Heron flew over this evening, its legs stretching out behind like a travel trailer. The lines, "Jane, Jane tall as a crane," popped into my head. I studied Edith Sitwell's poem in high school.

Here's the full text. If herons could be domesticated, I'd have one and call it Jane--even though herons and cranes are different birds.

Jane, Jane
Tall as a crane,
The morning light creaks down again;

Comb your cockscomb-ragged hair,
Jane, Jane, Come down the stair.

Each dull blunt wooden stalactite
Of rain creaks, hardened by the light,

Sounding like an overtone
From some lonely world unknown.

But the creaking empty light
Will never harden into sight,

Will never penetrate your brain
With overtones like the blunt rain,

The light would show
(if it could harden)
Eternities of kitchen garden,

Cockscomb flowers
that none will pluck,
And wooden flowers
that 'gin to cluck.

In the kitchen you must light
Flames as staring, red and white,

As carrots or as turnips, shining
Where the old dawn light lies whining

Cockscomb hair on the cold wind
Hangs limp,
turns the milk's weak mind...
Jane, Jane,
Tall as a crane,
The morning light
creaks down again!

AND, I may have seen a Red-Billed Tropic Bird. Maybe. It seems unlikely, given the range, but it's the closest I can come to the white, long-tailed bird with the orange beak that flew over about 4:00 this afternoon.

Who knows what I'll see "when the morning's light creaks down again."

Phone Calls, Ph.D.s, Pelicans, and Parking Lots

I did the Mother's Day thing. Spoke to my daughters. Spoke to my mother. Soaked up that long distance love. Sent it buzzing through cell phone towers and phone lines stringing telephone poles together from state to state--and I got plenty of that buzzing love right back.

I also had my first gathering (well--mini-gathering) at my new house. My friend S. might have the distinction of being the first friend to come over at every new place I've had. There's been champagne or red wine in front of fireplaces, next to the pool, on the patio. We've toasted to newness, friendship, happiness, and yesterday there we were again--S. and her guy and me marveling at boats and birds and water with a tablecloth thrown over a grubby million-year-old folding table. And it was a day for a extra celebrating since S. had just returned from her graduation ceremony in which she was awarded her Ph.D.

We toasted that, too, of course, and ate local berries and avocados, and good cheese, and fresh roasted cauliflower. Afterwards we walked to the sand and marveled at the ocean, and then they drove back to Hollywood.

Later that evening, I rode the Ventura County Airporter shuttle bus from my tiny local airport to LAX to have dinner with a friend in town very briefly on business. The freeways were a troubled infinity of accidents and traffic jams, so the minibus rattled down the coast on the way there. We wove through Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice, and Marina del Rey. Happy families picnicking on the sand, surfers crossing four lanes of coast highway traffic riding the openings like a wave, pelicans dive-bombing their dinner, a happier infinity of blue water, white waves, and sunshine.

Dinner at Encounter encounter. George Jetson meets tired coffee shop meets inflated prices meets harried wait staff. The tuna tartare and the fresh green salad were very good. The calamari less so. Dining with my friend, talking writing, and dogs, and traveling could not have been better. 

I caught the last shuttle back. At shortly before midnight, I found myself trapped in the parking lot of the shuttered and dark Oxnard airport. After calling an 800 number on a parking lot sign, a guy emerged from control tower. "Oh that button," he said. "It's sticky. We really should fix that."

Happy Mother's Day

I stood in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room, bewildered. My grandmother never came to visit in the morning, yet there she was--washing dishes. Where was my mother? Shouldn’t she be pouring my Frosted Flakes into the blue and white Melmac cereal bowl that made me think of robin’s eggs? Shouldn’t she be setting it at my place at the kitchen table facing the picture window that looked out on the river so I could watch the bright red cardinals feeding at the wooden box my father had nailed to the big tree? “Your mother has gone to the hospital to get your little brother,” my grandmother said. 
Did I know, before that moment, that I was going to have a little brother? The idea of a new baby, whether known about or not, materialized as an arresting reality. But the fact that my mother found it necessary to “go and get” the baby, as my grandmother had put it, annoyed me. Couldn’t it just be brought, like the milk or the mail or my father’s freshly dry cleaned suits? I wanted my mother. I wanted my Frosted Flakes and the little stack of Oreos that I was allowed to have after breakfast on the couch while watching Romper Room so my mother could take her morning nap. 
I was four years old, and I knew how things were supposed to go. If you dug a hole in the ground, you could fall through it all the way to China. If you left a light on while you slept, monsters would not enter the room. People came in sizes like shoes or bottles of milk, and God had fashioned us out of clay baked in an oven, and brought us to life by breathing on us. I was little; my parents were big; and my 12-year-old sister was medium-sized.
It must have been something my grandmother said during that visit. For the first time I understood that one day I would grow up to become a mother, and that my parents, my sister, and my grandmother, and I had all come into this world as babies like the one who would soon be coming to join our family.
On the day my father finally ushered my mother through the kitchen door, in her arms was a small bundle--a tiny baby boy wrapped in a yellow and blue blanket that was as soft as a cloud.  He had silky black hair, and when I looked into his face I knew that I would explain to him as soon as possible that he would not have to remain small forever.

Friday, May 11, 2012

I'm floored.....

The floors are in. Moldings yet to come.

The paint color on the accent wall is called "Beach Hut." The other walls are a pale yellow. The picture does not quite capture it.  The window shades have dragon flies on them.

The window shades in here are a tweedy brown. You can see the water from this room, which makes the blue kind of breathtaking.

This is my room. The accent wall, at the head of the bed, is "Bountiful Orange."The other walls are "Pearl." The quilt for my bed is pearl and blue. Opposites on the color wheel are exciting, but I think the room will still be restful because the orange won't be seen while one is lying in bed.

And here we have my favorite nostalgic childhood collection installed in the kitchen. I'm going to have to prop them on little platforms or something. They look like they're sinking. Custer's in enough trouble as it is. It would be good if it looked like his horse had legs.
And the Lone Ranger and Tonto look like they're riding through quicksand.

My dad bought me these horses and riders one at a time starting in about 1956 or so. They've lived with me in 8 different houses. This is their first time displayed in the kitchen. I suppose most people would put pretty plates up there or tea cups or tea pots or something kitchen-y. Or maybe because I live near the beach, giant seashells or sailboats would be an option.

Surprise! I've got cowboys and Indians and soldiers instead.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Out with the Grungy Carpet, In with the Wood Floors

There was a grimy track worn into the cream-colored carpet from in front of the sofa to the kitchen. A finer line of ground-in Cheetos or some sort of orange-ish chip marked, presumably, the spot just underneath the edge of the couch where the vacuum cleaner couldn't reach. The carpet had baggy-saggy-itis, and I tripped over it whenever I tried to make my way from the kitchen to the patio.

Last week 74 boxes of engineered "antique walnut" flooring was delivered single-handedly by a rather corpulent man who I thought might expire before dropping the last box to the floor. "One guy?" I asked. "Why do they only send one guy?" He shrugged and hobbled back to the truck.

Yesterday the carpet was removed and the cement slab was sealed.

Today the floor in the living room/dining room was installed.

It still needs moldings and some cleanup, but the change is pretty stunning.

I'm going to go flooring-geek on you for a minute. (The man who loves me is a flooring contractor.)

It was hard to decide which direction to lay this floor--with the boards pointing from the front door out to the patio--or the other way (which I ultimately chose.) With the just a little shaving on the edges of the boards next to the kitchen tile, we were able to make the transition from travertine to wood without a stumbly T-molding or a reducer. Shaving the butt-ends of dozens and dozens of boards would have added too much to the task. I figured the eye is drawn to the view anyhow and doesn't require help from the floor. I also think I'll like how the direction of the wood ties the two spaces together.

Tomorrow the upstairs.

Oh--and just in case you're wondering what an engineered wood floor is---it's real wood (a thin layer of it)--in this case actual walnut, afixed to plywood and pre-finished in the factory. The more durable brands have a thicker layer of real wood than the bargain brands, which means it can be sanded and refinished once or twice like a solid wood floor. And, unlike solid wood, you can install it over a concrete slab because it can be glued down instead of nailed to a sub-floor.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bird of the Day

Brown Pelican. 4:00 this afternoon, swooping low over the water just over my patio fence.
And this evening, two more sitting like sentries along the canal.

Pardon the awful photograph. Those white blobs are the pelican's heads.

The Night of the Super Moon

Strange creatures came to slake their thirst the night of the super moon.
The streets swayed with MUSIC. Artists made art, lovers loved, and drinkers drank dollar-off margaritas because the planets of Festival,  and Super Moon, and Cinco de Mayo all aligned, and it was good.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Dark House

There we were, the ex-husband and I. We were in a small chapel. People were milling about. There was nowhere to sit, and so we sat by each other. He slipped me some kind of note or paperwork. He panicked for a moment, thinking the papers he had given to his partner were the ones he'd meant for me. He wanted us to get back together, and it was still a secret. He had his wife and his children to think of, but we'd been sneaking around, he and I, meeting for lunch and for sex. I had my own guilt to deal with. I was going to have to break the news to the man who loves me. Tell him that I might be getting back together with my ex-husband.

And then I woke up, thank god. Feeling guilty and weird that I'd dreamed such a thing. That's what I get for watching Bergman's "Scenes from a Marriage"home alone.

I first saw the movie in the mid-70s not long after moving to L.A. I saw it with my ex-husband--who was just my boyfriend then. In my memory it was all shot in close-up in a white room, the lights blaring into the faces of the husband and wife, their tight smiles dissolving into loathing. I didn't care for it much back then. I had no idea, I suppose, how people who appeared so happy on the surface, could be swirling in so much subterranean turmoil. It was utterly fascinating this time around. I had to turn it off for a bit after the scene where Marianne calls her friend to tell him that Johann has left her. He already knows--had known for quite a while that Johann was planning it. My own humiliation came back to me, so palpable and present, that I got up from my chair and stood in the bathroom doorway wondering if in a second I'd be kneeling on the tile in front of the toilet. But I was okay. It was good to be reminded, in a way, of my debilitating un-doing. To contrast then with now. To see where the path began and where my feet are planted now.

As for Marianne and Johann and their dark night in a dark house where they lay in bed cheating on their present spouses, that's not a house I ever want to inhabit. That house burned down, and nothing will rise from its ashes.

"The Five Regrets of Divorce"

Some interesting reading this morning written by Christy Campbell. Check it out, you denizens of Divorceville.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bird of the Day

Maybe not this exact bird, but some kind of cormorant. On my neighbor's boat dock. 7:35 a.m.

Why I Am Moving

"Why did you move?" This question from one of my readers appeared as a comment on my last post. I'd been asking myself the same thing all day. Standing alone on the empty beach under a gray sky with the man who loves me sixty-five miles away, how could I not ask that question?

I tallied up the reasons on the walk home and have been going over them for the last day and a half.

1) My eighty-eight-year-old mom is coming to live with me, and would have trouble managing the four-story "tower house" floor plan of my current place.

2) I've wanted to live by the water ever since I was 11 or 12 years old, goofing around outside my friend Kim's house with her skateboard and her transistor radio playing The Beach Boys "Little Surfer Girl." I'd already caught the wave that included Elvis's "Blue Hawaii," and the Gidget movies. By the time the Gidget TV show aired, California was mine--if only inside my head. When I finally moved to L.A. from the midwest a decade later, I couldn't imagine how I ended up so far from the ocean.

3) I have more than 35 years of memories in Los Angeles. Nearly everywhere I've been in L.A. is someplace I've gone with The Someone. The narrative runs through my head constantly. I'd need some sort of lobotomy to stop it.

4) Downsizing was okay. It was good in many ways, in fact. But despite the fact that buying a bigger place seems misguided at almost 60, I want to gather those people I love and enjoy to my heart and to my hearth. I think I have some talent for this. I have three children and three grandchildren. I hope to have more (grandchildren, that is.) I am serious when I say I want house guests. I hope my grandchildren will come for a long stretch of each summer because I think parents need a break whether they realize it or not.

5) It's cooler here. I'm wearing a wool sweater right now.

6) There are blue herons and pelicans, and other birds I haven't yet learned the names of.

7) I have a boat dock here. I lived in a house with a boat dock until I was five years old. We had a pontoon boat, and a row boat, and a motor boat. I like boats. I need to learn something new. Kayaking seems like a good thing to learn.

8) About half of my L.A. friends have moved away. Others are planning on it. The rest live across town, and I seldom see them anyway.

9) The traffic in L.A. keeps getting worse. The smog is still bad--even though every year, they say it's not as bad as it used to be.

10) I had to move somewhere. Really, I did. It's not that far from L.A. There are trains--Amtrak, Metrolink. You could even come here by boat. If you had one.