Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Write Work

This week I've been focused on my writing work. The variety is great but as with everything, I bump into annoying parts of myself. Like the journalistic work I'm doing right now requires that I conduct a lot of phone interviews. I intensely dislike making phone calls. I feel like the phone is the most intrusive invention ever made. You never know what is happening in the life of the person whom you are calling. I actually breathe a sigh of relief when I get an answering machine because then I can state my business and the person can call me back at his/her convenience. The only problem is that much of the time I don't get a call back which means I have to call again. SIGH . . . and I'm back to dread of dialing. So I've told Cindy to shoot me if I ever accept another assignment like this one that requires beaucoup calls.

Another annoying thing about me is procrastination. Sure, I do reasonably good work under pressure but wouldn't it be easier if I did the work according to a schedule? Oh, I plan out the work in nice tidy increments. I just don't stick to the plan, so that means that when I finally get to work, time is short and the task becomes all-consuming.

Then there is the fact that I think I can do things I'm untrained for and have no experience with. That ups the ante considerably as I scramble to research and learn while trying to complete a project on time. The part of me that is SO certain she "knows" simply does not show up when it's time to do the job, and so the worker bee loses sleep over how to get the job done, all the while thinking up creative excuses for why something is taking longer than expected.

Come to think of it, all three jobs I'm working on this week fit into that category. Who is it who thinks she knows? Will she please step off the bus and let me ride leisurely to the beach or somewhere else relaxing?


Monday, April 28, 2008

Retirement Anniversary

This past weekend marked my one year anniversary in retirement. Being the goal oriented woman that I am, I had a clear idea of what I would do when I retired. My plan was to spend more time with my family, my garden, and my writing. If this past week is any measure, I'm right on track with those plans. Here are some pictures to illustrate.

Monday: What teacher Cherie called a "family tree" at yoga class with me, Uncle John, and August.

Tuesday: A homeschool field trip with Uncle Andy to study the ditch system in Tuolumne County. Andy took this picture during our hike of Taylor, me, Nell, Cody, Candice, Jenny, Kyle, and .

Wednesday and Thursday were spent on big writing projects of which I have 3 that are due this week. No pictures of me writing as all the color was hopefully happening in my head. Friday was Anna Mae's birthday and Bonnie and Fred arrived for the weekend. (I already wrote about our trip to the Celebration & Remembrance Event).

On Sunday I was gifted with major help in my garden when Bonnie & Fred and friends Becky & Marianne worked all day helping me build beds in my newly enlarged fenced garden.

My life may be a bit over full but it is truly blessed.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Modern Medicine

On Tuesday, Nell and I moved our bodies, skipped our feet, and swirled scarves in a vigil dance while Huckle underwent surgery. For 3 hours, with stops for food and drink and giggling, we danced with joyful hearts. Huckle came through the surgery beautifully and had the best of reports in terms of when he might need another one. Nell and I kept dancing!

Yesterday, Bonnie & Fred and Cindy & I put on the tee-shirts that Cindy made in December--the ones that picture Ashley with the words "Do Random Acts of Kindness in Memory of Ashley Sala." Then we drove to Hayward for a Celebration & Remembrance Ceremony for the families of organ donors. We sat with 1100 people who, like us, were simultaneously filled with grief and pride regarding our loved one's donation. I started crying as soon as I opened the thick program and began reading about those named and pictured --282 California donors in 2007. Dancers and singers and speakers acknowledged the amazing gift of life that Ashley and the other donors gave at the end of their lives. A stream of organ recipients mounted the stage to offer their heartfelt thanks. As the ceremony progressed, I felt an amazing net of grace cover all of us in that huge auditorium.

Modern medicine is miraculous but nothing beats the wonder of people gathering and dancing in celebration.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Huckle, disguised as a leprechaun, went to SF with Mom and Dad for his surgery. Meanwhile, Nell went shopping for pale pink nail polish with Dearma. She got distracted by a purple headband which had to be purchased too. Sometimes you have to don a costume to deal with life.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


In January, I put the amaryllis that I had forced for Christmas out on the back deck, intending to dry it out and save it for next year. Unbeknownst to me, Cindy kept watering it and now it is blooming more spectacularly than it did in December. Needless to say, it is back in the house.

I was assigned to review Steel Magnolias which opened this past weekend at Stage 3. The house manager seated all of the "press" together: reviewers from the Democrat, the Mountain Times and the Calaveras Enterprise. It was fun chatting with the other reviewers, and I can't wait to read their take on the play which I thought was quite well done. My review will be in Thursday's paper. In another small town story, the associate producer for this production was KleenSlate Concepts, another of my clients.

My grandson August ran the Old Mill Run on Saturday. He came in 1st in his age group and 17th in the race over all. He really has the running bug and I totally get it. Being in Columbia for the start and the finish of that race sure set my muscle memory astir. I would love to run a race with him. Wonder if these old hip bones would hold up for a 10K??

The yard is languishing in the rush of all that I committed to last week and this upcoming week. There is so much to do outside. I'm dying to plant stuff in my new wine barrels, and I bought a flat of succulents at the Native Rock Garden Society sale. I have lots to do in the new fenced garden so it will be ready for planting by Mother's Day, and the lawn needs to be mowed. I aim to do one small thing a day this week, and I'm giving myself the week before my birthday to spend almost every day in the yard.

Hopefully the acute case of allergies that I have going will be gone by then. The oak pollen has really attacked me this year: sneezing, stuffed up, and even asthma for a couple days. We washed the cars last week, and they aren't covered with yellow-green pollen yet, so maybe the pollen drop has subsided.

Onward and forward into the new week. I'm going shopping for food for Nell who is spending the night on Monday. She'll be going on the Harrelson field trip to Uncle Andy's. It will be hard to concentrate on ditches with such cuteness present but we'll do our best.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Table Mountain Trek

Yesterday, I hiked up to Table Mountain with the Harrelson kids and their mom. If you've every driven the road from Shell to the trailhead, you know that it is deeply rutted and crosses two cattle guards and requires opening and closing two gates. Jenny navigated the road with finesse, choosing the smoothest available way which did not mean we didn't bounce around. At one point, a herd of horses stood in the road and one refused to move. Another put his head in the window to see if Kyle had any food to share. He got a pet on the head for his effort. In the end, Jenny got out of the Suburban and slapped the stubborn horse who refused to leave the center of the road. He bounded off and set the other horses in motion too.

The hills were green and beautifully decorated with purple brodiaea and vetch, but when we reached the top of Table Mountain, the wild flower bloom had already turned dry and crunchy. There were a few late blooming lupine, buttercups, and fiddleneck. Candice and Kyle picked samples and stuck them in their sketch books to flatten and dry. Cody collected samples of lava rock, filling his sweatshirt pocket until the rocks clinked musically as he walked. Taylor looked for places to sit and sketch the spectacular view of New Melones Reservoir. Jenny and I focused on calling kids back when they got too close to the cliff's edge. We all enjoyed trying to spot landmarks from the southern side of the mountain that looks toward Highway 108 and Jamestown.

Even though we missed the huge array of flowers that probably bloomed a few weeks ago, it was a worthwhile trip. Not only did we get to walk on the ancient lava flow, Table Mountain is a terrific place to get a bird's eye view of much of the county. Next week, we are going to Uncle Andy's to hike a segment of the ditch system and hear about hydrology in Tuolumne County.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Christmas in April

Every year for Christmas, I plan some kind of special event with each of my children's families. These events often happen the week after Christmas or even during the first or second week of January. But this past Christmas, one event got postponed until April. The Harrelsons and I planned a trip to San Francisco. The idea originated in Kyle who wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge, and it mushroomed into a day long trip with additional sight-seeing. Admittedly I planned too much for one day, but as sightseeing trips go, we saw a lot of the city and San Francisco put her best foot forward.

The weather was spectacular which is truly remarkable because weather is iffy in the city. As we crossed the Bay Bridge into the city, we could see all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. Kyle was the first to notice the triangular TransAmerica building, one of the landmarks we were looking for. Angel Island looked close enough to touch in the sparkling smooth bay.

Our first stop was Pier 39 to see the sea lions and ride the carousel. The sea lions rolled amiably on the piers napping and sunning. A few bickered and barked and a couple had brief rollicks in the water. They seemed a contented lot. Next, we rode on the carousel. I can't pass a carousel without a spin and the kids happily joined me. Candice, Kyle, and I rode on the upper deck while Cody and Taylor saddled up on the lower section. On our way out, we did a little window shopping and Raleigh and Cody each made a purchase.

Our next stop was the Marina Green for Lunch. Raleigh backed the Suburban in and we set our table on the tailgate and sat on the grass to eat. We ate strawberries, sandwiches, and salads with a view of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, both of which looked swimmable across a bay that was glassy and calm.

The drive across the Golden Gate Bridge was swift—it is after all less than a mile across. What a day to visit the Vista Point on the Marin side of the Bridge. The city and the bridge presented themselves gloriously. I don't know if I've ever witnessed such a spectacular sight. I was sure proud to be able to show my son and his family this view of my native city.

The plan was to drive back across the bridge, cruise the neighborhood of my youth, and then head south of Market to visit Yerba Buena Gardens and the Zeum. The drive through my old neighborhood was fine. Everyone got to see where Dearma and her siblings grew up, but this side trip meant we took city streets to the South of Market and that meant stop signs, stoplights and traffic. It was slow going. Also, I was uncertain of the most direct route, so it was pretty late when we got downtown.

We had an up close and personal experience on Market Street with all the different kinds of folks who live in the city AND we had a parking adventure. We did a loop-dy-loo around the Buena Vista Gardens trying to get into a parking structure. We were either on the wrong side of the street or the structure was full and we had to go around again. We ended up in this strange underground lot that had valet parking in which cars were driven into these weird elevators and taken who knows where. The attendant told us the Suburban would be charged as an over-sized vehicle. We didn't care. We just wanted to PARK!!

We walked to the Zeum doing a bit of shopping on the way at Peet's Coffee and Old Navy. Both offered more sights to see in the city which turned out to be a good-sight better than the Zeum which admittedly was not one of my better ideas. The place is a multi-media, hands-hand activity center for kids. Sounds good, right? NOT!! We got there at the end of the day. The staff was tired and so were some of the apparatuses. One of the ones we looked forward to—a lightshow maze on the floor—went on the blink from overheating just as we got to it. Most of the other stuff required instruction from qualified staff and/or it was just a kind of clunky. Other than a couple of delightful clay figures made by Kyle and Candice, the Zeum flopped.

We did get two rides on the fast moving Buena Vista Gardens Carousel—2 for the price of 1. I guess we should count our blessings on that as things in downtown are pretty pricey. Another blessing was deciding to eat at a Chevy's on the corner near the parking structure. The food was pretty good and since it was only 5pm, we got seated immediately and served quickly. The final blessing of the day was missing all the traffic leaving the city for the weekend! Our ride home was swift and accompanied by some good music from Raleigh's iPod.

What did I like best about the trip? The incredibly good-natured Harrelson clan. They are sooooo nice to each other and to me. I love you, Harrelsons.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Playing with My Grandkids

No time for blogging. I've been playing with my grandkids.

Huck & Nell enjoyed tandem swinging at Dearma's after we met Cindy for lunch at C&C Tacqueria.

I took a ride on the Jamestown train with Leon and Aliou. We also saw a fireman on a hook and ladder truck.

Gianna and I made bricks for my garden and went to music night at Granddaddy's.

Kyle and I went to see "Horton Hears a Who" and then we had ice cream at Legends.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Expanding the Garden

About a year ago, Jay, the family gardening mentor, suggested that I expand my tiny fenced kitchen garden. At the time, I didn't think it was something I wanted to do. Vegetable gardening is not a high priority for me, nor is winter gardening, so it didn't seem necessary to make the space bigger. It was plenty large enough for tomatoes, peas, melons, and sometimes peppers, eggplant, and squash.

But then this winter I got the bright idea to move my roses into the vegetable garden. It was a slow project, but I got them all moved and there was little room left for vegetables. So be it, I thought. I prefer roses to the work of veggies.

However, I still had the issue of the deer getting the apple tree and decimating the strawberry bed. I started imagining a way to redo the fencing around them with little gates to get inside. I asked my nephew Lee to come over and help dig fence posts to bring this idea to reality.

Admittedly, my vision was a little vague. But it only took Lee a few minutes of looking and talking before we were actualizing the idea of expanding the garden per Jay's suggestion. It took about 8 hours to dig the fence posts and get the fence wire up, but Lee was great about figuring out how to reuse existing posts and wire, so the project didn't cost an arm and a leg.

Now I have a greatly expanded fenced garden and a whole lot more work to do. I have dig through crab grass and road base, build beds and a fill them with compost and other good stuff, as well as work on pathways and move railroad ties. It will be a lot of work, but I'm excited.

I've put out a call to family to scavenge some building materials for the beds and today Gianna is coming to help me make bricks that we'll use for the pathways.

It's second nature for gardens to evolve forever. Mine is expanding into something new and interesting.