Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pussycat and the Pea Green Boat

The kayak sat in the garage for a couple of days, because I needed help to tote it down to the dock. But thanks to M, it made it. I've been out the last two mornings, eyeball to eyeball with the great blue herons, on the water by myself at 6:00 or 6:30 a.m.

I'm really getting in shape with all that paddling, right?

 If you could see what I really look like, you'd laugh. Typical outdoorsy pants--check. Ratty t-shirt--check. Life-vest--check. Think Pillsbury dough boy goes paddling. The neighbors in the condos across the water are probably spreading the word, and in a few more days there ought to be audible applause as I belly-flop out of the kayak and onto my dock. It's no problem getting into the boat, but a graceful exit eludes me. Yes, I've watched the youtube instructional videos. Hahaha.

photo credit:

Friday, July 26, 2013

Wishes and Coincidences

Like a lot of writers, I have a stash of journals. I've been combing through them lately. Revising stories, tearing out the stuff that stinks and the stuff I'm done with, trying to find some way of organizing all these notes that I jotted down before I hit upon those little notebooks of index cards that work so much better for me. In this effort, I stumbled upon my "divorce notebook." I have no idea what the central purpose of this book was. Some sense out of the chaos, I guess. I kept notes from interviewing attorneys, general questions. Financial stuff, therapy notes. There was this:

Okay. A short list. I might have been able to keep that in my head. But maybe not. I was fucking insane then.

And there was this:

Perhaps I was planning to send the Someone a bill for my moving boxes. I dunno.

And in my effort to visualize what I wanted my new place to look like, I clipped and pasted pictures from magazine and catalogues. 

Pretty, huh?

Okay. I moved. I got some new stuff. That was 2007. Flash forward. Forget that divorce notebook ever existed. Decide aged mother is moving in with me. Move again (it's 2012 now). And flash forward again to 2013. Get more new stuff to furnish extra bedrooms. Months later, find notebook. Walk down hall to guest room. See this.

I love a good coincidence. Who doesn't? But just to add a little weird frosting to the coincidence cake, I didn't choose the guest room bedding in the photo above. Daughter C did. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Report from Pillville: post hospital,the walker, the physical therapist, the vascular surgeon, the cardiologist, hearing aids, and every day we set up the dominoes

It's taken three weeks since my mom's hospitalization to feel like things are on an even keel here in Pillville. The walker and physical therapy were smallish things to deal with. But the pain in my mom's feet  made us worry that four days laid up in bed had compromised her iffy circulation once again. Luckily, the vascular ultrasound proved otherwise, and arthritis is most likely responsible for her pain. Usually not a reason for celebration....but in this case, it's quite a nice piece of news. My mom's hearing seems to have deteriorated since her hospital stay as well, so we've scheduled a new hearing test.

I'd say that my mom is back to where she was before the antibiotics for the skin infection made her sick and dehydrated and disoriented and played havoc with the coagulation levels in her blood. She bounced back physically by the beginning of last week--her therapy finished and the walker got folded up against her bedroom wall, but it's only this week that her mental energy seems fully back to normal. Then yesterday morning she suddenly felt unwell, got sick to her stomach, and had to spend until the early afternoon resting. Uh-oh, I thought.

But whatever it was resolved itself, and by afternoon she was fine. Martini. Dinner. Today I took her to the cardiologist for a regular check up. Her blood pressure was low--so we must take her blood pressure every day and only administer her evening blood pressure medication as needed. Not a problem, right? Still, the dominoes are set up here in Pillville. Like they are every day if you are going on 89.

Yesterday on Facebook, I stumbled across THIS. Since I live with my mother, I entered 365 in top box.
The answer was not a big surprise:

Your mum is living
10years beyond the age she is expected to die.
Yeah, I know this time with her is all bonus. I think of it every morning. Every time I come back into the house after going out. Every evening when I eat dinner with her and I'm finished 10 or 15 minutes before she is and I sit at the table  watching her chew with her eyes closed, wondering how I might become a more scintillating conversationalist. I think of it when we say good-night. It's bonus time. All of it.

photo credit: the

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How to Haul a 9-ft Kayak in a Prius

Like this.

Of course,  I still have to get it down to the boat dock, but even with it now sitting on the floor of my garage, it feels like Christmas.

Monday, July 15, 2013

How I Awoke with a Stepladder and an Empty Vodka Bottle in My Bedroom

2:27 a.m. And my smoke alarm beeping. Every 30 seconds. Cheerp. Cheerp. The man who loves me is in my bed next to me, dug so deeply into dreamland that he doesn't even stir when I get out of bed and stand directly under the offending device. In the dark, I stare up at the ceiling wanting to be certain it's this smoke detector and not the one in the hallway or the carbon monoxide detector downstairs. It is.

There's no possibility that I will get back to sleep unless I can stop the noise, so I go downstairs to the laundry room and pull out my plastic box of batteries. There's one 9-volt battery in the box and it's in a package that's been opened. Please be a good battery, I whisper as I head for the garage to get the ladder.

This should be pretty simple, I think. Back upstairs, I position the ladder, setting my iPad, in flashlight mode, on top of the ladder. I'm a 12-foot tall woman in jeans and a black lace bra in a spotlight and the man who loves me is still sleeping. If he wakes, I think, he may die of fright. Battery out. Battery in. Cheerp.

I stand on the ladder in the dark, typing "my smoke alarm won't stop beeping" into the Google search box. There are a variety of  remedies, but first I have to ascertain if my alarm is AC or DC. I'm guessing it's hardwired since my house is newish, and that's probably required by safety code, but I can't tell by looking, so I haul the ladder into the guest room, close the door and turn on the ceiling light to look at the smoke detector in there. I'm thinking it should twist off easily if it's just a battery device. It doesn't. 

The troubleshooting instructions insist that I must cut the power to the smoke detector, take the battery out, push the reset button, turn the power back on and re-insert the battery. Shirt on. Down to the breaker box on the exterior wall of my house. Each breaker is carefully labeled. None is for upstairs. There must be another breaker box upstairs. I can't find it. Unless it's in M's room. She's sleeping, and given her insane hours and her 65-mile each way commute to her job, she will probably kill me if I awaken her at 3:00 a.m. Cheerp. I'm thinking maybe that's not so bad.

Back to Google. Maybe if I just take the battery out entirely. Nope. Cheerp. Cheerp. Back downstairs. I recall that there was an extra smoke detector in the laundry room drawer when I moved in. If I can examine the device by holding it in my hands, read the white on white Braille-like lettering, maybe I can figure this out. There's a reset button. "Push to reset. Hold to test," the tiny letters say. How long is a push vs. a hold? Should I risk actually setting off the alarm? My mom will wake up. M will wake up. I'm not so sure about the man who loves me, but I'd rather poke out my eardrums than push that button. Standing upstairs in my closet with the extra smoke detector in my hand, I practice taking the battery in and out of that one, checking to see if I could have wrongly inserted the battery in the beeping detector. No. What if I push the button on the unattached smoke detector? It's not wired in. If the alarm sounds, I can rip out its battery. It beeps. Then beeps again. Now there are two smoke detectors cheerping. Good-bye battery. Cheerp. What??? The thing is cheerping and it has no battery. I stuff it into the pajama drawer in my closet and close the door.

It's almost 4:00 a.m. Google. Be sure the battery door is completely closed after you change the battery the umpteenth website says. Back up the ladder. Coax the cover. Wiggle it. Silence.

I have some booze on a pretty tray with a couple of glasses in my bedroom. Grand Marnier. Bailey's. A nearly empty bottle of Polish bison grass vodka that is so good, I have been reluctant to drain it. Now is the time. I sit in the big white easy chair in the dark, the bottle on the window ledge next to me. It's so quiet I can hear that lovely man in my bed breathing. Is he dreaming? Wait! What was that dream I was having?That dream just before I awoke. The Someone and His Someone. There were nefarious financial dealings. Blackmail. And….something. Some secret that explained everything about my divorce…but now it might as well have gone up in smoke.

Herons call over the water in the dark. The vodka bottle is empty. Back to bed.

In the morning, the moment he wakes, the man who loves me smiles and kisses me. When he sees the box of batteries on the bathroom counter, he says, "I guess you were up in the middle of the night." Later, over coffee, he tells me he slept well. And that he dreamt of Harrison Ford.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Execution in Zahara

It's probably a crime to walk on the beach on a day like today.
The cold silk of the silver-green sea billowing like a ball gown,
The grebe riding it up and down with a joy I feel inside my own body.
This bird's long throat stretches down from its black feathered cap, and it's hard to say
which is more breathtaking--that white neck or the sweet froth that spreads into the sand.
And then there's the pelican, rising from its seaward plunge back into the sky, exposing the tender filament that connects us all to the heavens.
So dig my shallow grave, pleasure police, bury me here in the sand where
I might hear the siren call of the fog horn as I breathe my last.

note: I read somewhere that Oxnard was nearly given the name Zahara in reference to its soft pale sandy beaches. Zahari is derived from the Greek word Zahari, meaning sugar.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Not quite the luck of the Irish....

One of L.A.s classic taverns closed up shop recently. I spent an incredibly wired and loopy St. Patrick's night there thirty-ish years ago. Quite a few of the regular spots I frequented with the Someone are gone now. The superb croissant place that had the only decent French pastries I've ever had outside of France, the little cafe with the great gumbo, the place on the Sunset strip with the amazing organic burgers, the pizza place just off Hollywood Blvd., the pricey place where we developed a nasty habit of dropping a hundred bucks every Sunday in the last decade of our marriage. And while I certainly don't wish the restauranteurs ill, I practically need to be heimliched whenever I drive by the eateries where I spent a lot of time with the someone, so I'm glad these places have slipped into the past.

Getting out of L.A.--leaving the geography of my marriage--was one of the best things I've ever done for myself. As the post-marriage years tick by, I'm hoping there'll be fewer and fewer of the old haunts left. Just in case I ever give the City of Angels a second chance.

And meanwhile, may the wind be at your back, T.B.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Watt the $%*#?

The power went out last night just a few minutes after I slipped into a pretty blissful sleep. The beeping of the alarm on my mom's oxygen machine confused me; I thought it was my phone telling me I had a text message, but it was so dark in my room, I couldn't find my glasses to see the screen on my phone. By the time I figured out what was going on, my son was already knocking at my bedroom door. He'd already checked on my mom who said she was okay, and then he and his wife and I  went through the house setting my battery laterns into strategic spots. I didn't really care why the power had gone on the fritz.

Maybe ten minutes later I awoke to a light shining in my eyes. The lamp I'd turned on in my confusion to see my phone was lighting up my bedroom. Okay, I thought, good. My mom will probably sleep better with her oxygen. Back to sleep. Until the phone rang. It was Southern California Edison telling me there'd been a power outtage in my area. Oh thanks, but a little late, I thought. Back to sleep. For a minute. Then  I received a text from SCE letting me know about the unscheduled power outtage. I was a little riled up by this time, but with a little deep breathing, I could feel myself drifting into the bliss again. Ring. Now it's SCE letting me know that the power should be back on soon. (It's already on, remember?) Darn. I grumble my way back to slumber. Buzzzzz. Now SCE is texting me, letting me now the power will be back on soon. 

I took a long nap today. The next time the power goes out, I will uplug my land line and turn off my cell phone. What sort of power-drunk maniacs are making the decisions at SCE?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Lost on the Beach

We were supposed to meet on the beach--my son and his family and I. But through a misunderstanding and a rash of dropped cell phone calls, (did people really manage to meet each other without cell phones?) we missed each other, and my first beach walk in two weeks turned out to be a solitary one.

It was still fun. This being a holiday weekend, the normally unpopulated beach had some unusual sights and a few more common ones.

These hula dancers were posing for a photo shoot, but the wind kept blowing their headdresses askew.

Boomerang aficionados. Poor dog. What happened to fetch, he's wondering.

And of course there were surfers.

And fishermen.

And jet skiers.

I think, today, if I could have changed places with any of them, I might have chosen to be a hula dancer. They actually danced a bit. Hula's classic moves seem just right with the waves as a backdrop.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

48 hours--and then some

The make-up room in my college theatre department. 
I spent a lot of time with hairspray, pancake, and incredibly good friends there 40 years ago.

My weekend away:

A two hour shuttle ride.
A three and one-half hour plane trip.
An airport pick-up.
A pizza and a conversation with C and her husband.
Five and one-half hours of sleep.
A two-hour drive.
A walk and talk with an old friend
A day of reunion with friends from a semester abroad in France 40 years ago.
More conversation.
Five hours of sleep.
A two hour shuttle ride.
A three and one-half hour plane trip.
An hour and a quarter shuttle ride.
Out with old friends.

How to get rid of the negative bullshit in your head.

My week thus far:

Seeing my mom change out her walker for a cane.
Reading info from physical therapist.
Follow-up visit to doctor.
Phone calls with two other doctors and physical therapist.
No yoga.
No gym.
No t'ai chi chih.
No beach walks.
Run futile errand search for box of dusting powder. Has anyone bought a box of dusting powder in the last decade?
Ridiculously embarrassing road rage event.
Wallow stupidly in moody bender as worst self.
Shopping for arrival of house guests.
Finding stuffed refrigerator non-funtional next morning.
Refrigerator madness.
Refrigerator repair minutes before guests arrive.
Guests arrive!Eat.
Enjoy family.
Walk around the corner to watch fireworks.Imagine life falling into its normal rythym. Whatever that ever changing rhythm may be.