Summer Diary

 

SB Feb 003

  1. Not my rash!
  2. Finally. Fire breath. Thank you, GOT.
  3. I see you, arm muscle.  #workingout6weeksstraight
  4. Muscles missing. Hijacked in the night, IMO. So what? I have brie.
  5. Total eclipse of sun predicted. My prediction? Revision, revision, submissions, submissions….But only because not driving to Oregon.
  6. Box turtle refuses to be content in pen that is not the glorious unbridled wilds of Connecticut. Insists on escape. Like I did when a teenager. (comments closed)
  7. Exercising. Writing. Extracting dog poop from yard. Clearing black widow webs from home’s entryways (not metaphorically confessed). #life
  8. NOT MY RASH! (comments closed)
  9. Family is forever, some “family” forever suspect.
  10. Can’t remember when last visited beach…SAD!
  11. Coming alive in the wee hours, as usual–revising ms. with help of chai tea and ranch flavored rice crackers, and: macadamia nuts. Unsalted. Aloha?
  12. Sleep. Please! Sleep. For me.
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Star Wars vs. Sports (Panic Attack Edition)

I received an email late yesterday afternoon from my son’s summer camp with this subject line: FRIDAY SPORTS DAY. Meaning, send him to camp in a jersey emblazoned in a sports decal.

Last Friday was: STAR WARS DAY

An easy one! My boy dressed in his Luke Skywalker 1/2 robe w/belt, Star Wars T-shirt and shorts, down the sides of which he slid his light sabers, various Star Wars action figures filled his pockets and he had a storm trooper helmet under his arm, “Just in case, Mom!”

panda

My son doesn’t have a favorite sports team. He refuses organized soccer. He tried fencing, but the instructor shouted: THIS IS NOT STAR WARS! and he never wanted to go back. He did karate from ages 4 to 8. He’s done with karate. Or is at the very least on hiatus. He could care less about baseball, or (I breathe a sigh of relief) football. He and his hockey-manic dad attend L.A. Kings games, but our son doesn’t want to actually play hockey (his dad breathes a sigh of relief, having played for decades–cue lingering injuries).

“Do you want to wear a team shirt on Friday?” I asked my nine-year-old. He stared at me like I was cray-cray. “Of course, mom!” he said.

“Huh,” I said, wracking my brain. “Lakers?” “Sure! I like those yellow Laker shirts,” he said, surprising me. “Get me one of those?” he asked. “If you clean your room,” I responded, trying to buy time.

Did he really NOT have a team???

Did it matter?

We rooted for the Patriots in the Super Bowl, but my son never mentions (unlike his dad on a daily basis) Tom Brady or Edelman. He doesn’t mention the Kings. He’s never seen a Laker’s game, on TV or live. I was so confused. So when his dad got home from work I raced to Target, even though my husband insisted his Patriots shirts would fit our son (he cray-crayier than me). Target had no team shirts in my kid’s size, except for the Golden State Warriors (who???), but I did find a shirt depicting a storm trooper basically going-for-the-gold.

I almost bought it.

This morning? I wish I had.

patriots shirt

“Mom,” my son said with a sigh. “I’ll wear my R2 shirt. Team R2!” he added with a laugh.

Best kid ever.

 

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The New Now

I closed my laptop and asked my waitress, Lila, why she was clearly having a rough day. She started talking to me about her mom.

I almost dropped my glass of lemonade.

ice

Lila’s mom rivals mine and I didn’t think that was possible—I mean, anything is possible, but a mother using a super nice daughter as whipping post, poison pen recipient, heart-punching material (not to mention literal face-slapping material)? For decades?

I thought that was just my mom.

city

When I was a kid, my mother ran off with a Greek boy-god 15 years her junior, left us little ones with our alcoholic, depressed, out-of-work dad. She sent postcards detailing her explorations of Greek isles as my dad made our school lunches while sipping his morning coffee-with-vodka.

When the Greek boy-god dumped my mother, she reclaimed her kids and added a bad boyfriend to her instant-family. I wasn’t the only one who objected to him, cue my sisters and extended family members. But after Bad Boyfriend threw a patio table over on me, almost knocking out my front teeth because I told him his bullying was not okay, I was the kid at home wrapping my bedroom’s doorknob with string tied to a chairback: alarm system, in case Bad Boyfriend tried to kill me in the middle of the night.

It was the ’70’s. I had no idea CPS existed. If I had? I would have bugged them. Repeatedly. I was that kind of precocious, SAVE THE KIDS! kid.

salt mounds

When I fled ‘home’ at 17, my mother never said: I’m sorry I’m allowing you to go off and marry a misogynist three times your age.

Or: I’m sorry my addiction to abuse has caused you to enter an abusive relationship of your own.

Or: I’m sorry for abandoning you kids for the Greek boy-god.

Or: I’m sorry.

Instead, I got: “Your leaving caused me to have a nervous breakdown and only he (i.e., Bad Boyfriend) helped me through it.”

These days? I practice gratitude: Mr. Wonderful; our amazing son; our home, mini-zoo; our FUN.

It’s hard to imagine I was ever anyone’s whipping post, much less my own mother’s. And yet…she continues to repeat the past.

That doesn’t mean she is successful.

I told Lila.

stone

Lila didn’t agree, or disagree.

But confessed she gave her mother the shirt off her back because her mother unleashed the ME-A-BLACK-HOLE energy and said: I want your shirt. That shirt. Right there. The one you’re wearing.

Lila felt sad for her mother, who at that time was recovering from a stroke. So Lila washed the shirt in her mother’s washing machine. Dried, ironed it. Gave it to her mom-along with a bowl of chicken soup. Shortly after, Lila was b****-slapped again by: Guess who.

desert

Lila doesn’t look like me at all, but we are sisters.

“I can’t imagine treating my son the way my mother treated me,” I told Lila, hoping I didn’t sound preachy. “Can’t imagine treating my 12-17-year-old self the way my mother treated me,” I added. “I think about that 12-17-year-old girl trying so hard to be an adult without knowing how to be an adult and I tell that girl: I’ve got your back.”

Lila looked doubtful, but nodded.

“I’m making progress, is what I’m saying,” I told her.

Lila cried a little as I handed her my therapist’s card. She moved to other tables and I cried a little behind my sunglasses as I packed up my laptop and drove to retrieve my son from his summer camp.

Cue happiness.

metcayucos

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4th Fireworks (“Shh!” Edition)

Happy 4th!

This: fire1

This splendor in this country:

fire3

Here, they viewed this:

fire2

Our 4th?

 

This:

w!

Um–Mom? What’s going on?

Visiting family, as we were in the middle of watching ‘Moana’, I cried: OMG TIME FOR FIREWORKS. And my FIL brought us here, to an eerie stretch of road bracing the Indian reservation.

And then, suddenly, this quiet flash of imagery:

w2

I posted on FB that we were the scene in ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ when they’re waiting for the spaceships to fly by. And they flew.

w3

And it was?: Bliss.

indian2

Thank you, Soboba Indians, for the show. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I know it was bigger and louder closer, but this was perfect: Surreal, remarkably different, totally unforgettable. And you gave me writing material.

Yours in memorable scenery,

PB

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Vacationing Hypocrite (Monterey Edition)

jellyMy son and I kicked off his summer vacation with a road trip north, first stop: Monterey’s Cannery Row–breezes that had us in our hoodies within seconds of stepping out of the minivan, views of the bluey bay, an aquarium, wildlife (captive otters in the aquarium, wild otters spotted from aquarium windows overlooking the bay), a hotel on the Row, upstairs room with a door that popped open in the middle of the night (chained, luckily–when I went down to the front desk to ask them about it, they assured me doors popping open never happens and that the hotel wasn’t haunted–I did not ask if the hotel was haunted–but that’s what they offered up), traces of Steinbeck and Ed RickhotelAetts on building fronts, down alleyways leading to tidepools, tourists with bemused smiles until 11pm when the Row (surprising me, having read the novel multiple times and fashioned a certain impression) emptied of people and cars–instant night-calm as my son slept and I revised WIP’s before a fire in the grate (yes, Cannery Row was cold enough for a fire) appreciating the clammy cool vs. 100+ degrees in our broiling valley-of-home.

The only thing missing was my husband, who stayed behind to tend our ponderosa.

Our hero.

I encouraged my son to lead the way through the aquarium and he did, indoors, outside, upstairs, down into the Open Ocean exhibit where we gazed into a dimness housing swooping rays, bluefin tuna and, suddenly, from out of the water-gloom a hammerhead shark swimming straight for us. Ummm–seeing what I’m seeing? I asked my son. Wow, he murmured as the shark veered from us and swam off, returning a minute later, making tourists gasp above the chamber’shammer New Age music. Pretty amazing, my son said.

Jellies, sunfish, ever-descending grouper, rays and otters (rescues? I don’t know) and shorebirds (rescued, many rehabilitated and sent back to the beach)–but a hammerhead? My son explored other Open Ocean exhibits while I continued to watch the shark. I don’t like zoos. I do like the opportunity to appreciate/study our planet. So I’m a push-me/pull-ya zoo/aquarium-goer (although never Sea World). I hope I won’t meet a hammerhead in the real open ocean–but that doesn’t mean I relish watching from safety as one cuts endless circles around its cage. Way too Sea World-ish for me. Quite sad. Quite beautiful. Necessary? Look: A quote by Thoreau the aquarium displays boldly on a wall makes the joint as hypocritical as myself.

ham3

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Where I Discovered Poetry Last Weekend

Here:

fla9

And here:

fla8

How my family inspired me last weekend?

Via this:

fla1

And this:

fla5fla4

And this:

fla6

What it feels like to finish a pre-mini-vacation writing goal and move to the next?

This:

digs

Came down with the flu upon returning from family shenanigans. However, today I’m well enough to sit up and revise w/pillows. Also watched that movie, ‘Unacknowledged’,  in throes of flu-delirium, and it gave me ideas for my other novel I’m revising. Yes! (coughing-fit/aches). Let’s share snacks and orange juice (separate glasses) on the wellness train.

Yours (in bedridden productivity, surely the hardest kind),

PB

#parentalsicknessjustwronggodwrong

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Inspiration (Mother’s Day Edition)

mdayWhat inspiration looks like. Feels like. That guy, reading me his MDay card.

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MAY DAY (BLOOMING LATE EDITION)

On

rain

Daisies uncertain how to proceed in 90 degree heat: To die or bloom?

May Day! May Day! May Day! (a few days late, but—-)

90+ degrees today, again. My Spring yard is shriveling. I thought this wouldn’t happen until next month. Silly me! When the Arctic is melting! Doh. The box turtle and the ‘keets, however, are thrilled with the weather. Their daily outdoor-time is extended well through the dinner hour and close to the kid’s bedtime. (‘Keets are gently misted throughout day–they do not overheat–turtle has several water dishes, sprinkled greens and adequate shade-cover in her outdoor habitat–do not fear–I am a diligent mini-zoo-keeper–aren’t you?)

I finished revising my MG novel, made my deadline, but have extended it in order to re-examine/tweak the climax. Keep Calm & Tweak On (but not like Miley).

May your May Day be filled with calm revision.

PB.

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Third Eye (April Edition w/Cat)

dig1Woke up at 430am, pressed on with the last 40 pages of revision, my 3rd eye drowsy, but game.

Now that I’m wide awake, overly caffeinated and the little boy is at school and the husband is off to heroic business AND THE CASE-OF-THE-LOVIES CAT HAS HIT THE CAPS LOCK WITH HIS PURRING GIRTH, gotta go.

Yours in revision and occasional fist-pumps when writing is right (even if has meant killing sentences previously known as Darlings),

PB

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Heat Wave Revision

SB Feb 003Today’s spring temperature high is predicted as: 86F.

Which, in my sweltering valley, probably means: at least 90F. If not more.

The MG novel I’m almost finished revising (this time around) has everything to do with global warming, pollution, the (mis)use of chemicals and how humans dearly cherish and how humans mistreat our planet. So–this current revision session is not tedious.

Not at all.

Yours in timely edits,

PB

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Coffee Kick & Go (Tremble Edition)

msIt may be poetry month in the USA, but here at PB Writes the author was up late revising her MG novel, prepping it for the agent requesting a read. This sweet, cool and sunny spring morning–after creating pancakes-secreted-with-carrot-puree for the boy, feeding the home zoo, blending the spouse’s energy drink, coffee w/coconut milk at hand–she’s back at it, ready to re-revise-revise the first quarter of the novel before moving on to the next quarter. Or she will be revising once she stops writing this post. Ha, ha! Oh, PB! You go, Girl. Er–or something like that. And maybe eat some yogurt because your fingers betray a certain caffeine-tremble. Tsk!

Here’s to a day filled with red ink and writing progress (a Trader Joe’s run, dry cleaning pickup, phonecalls to VIP-types, cat to the vet for shots, 30 mins on the treadmill–this is why PB writes at night so often). And maybe, if you have time between chapters or latest stanzas or if your muse confiscates your coffee and kicks you away from your manuscript, check in with The Dad Poet’s poetry month postings. Also, Claire has the skivvy on this year’s Bailey’s Women’s Prize For Fiction authors.

Shhh! Time to work. Off you go now, you, you and YOU, too. Daylight’s burning!

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April Is Poetry Month (As If You Didn’t Know)

 

Eleanor_Fortescue-Brickdale_-_With_goodly_greenish_locks

She looks as though she was caught secretly reading Yeats. Topless.

At the recent SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Day (see my SCBWI piece),  editor Pam Gruber had her workshop attendees write down a bit of world building. In honor of all those writing a poem a day this month (I am not doing that this year–focused instead on revision of my MG novel), in support and admiration of those who snap on the light in wee hours to record a line of poetry, a dream, an inspiration, something crucial to some misbehaving chapter, I’m including what I was inspired to write for the Gruber exercise.

Santa Barbara is gorging on poetry at the moment. Check out my hometown’s poets and events here. The Dad Poet always keeps up with poetry month. You’ll find lots of poems and poetry info on his site.

Hm. I can’t find the world building bit I wrote. Perhaps the cat ate it. So here’s a bit of poetry after all:

You choose a foot, a head & a vertebra,
(you think), sunblasted skin-smooth, tugged
from seawall rising above island beach
like an ambitious art installation: wall
of contemporary junk fused by sea
in all her panoramic moods, ferried
by swells, squalls, here, where you
& I are the last two on earth.

from Stranded, PB Rippey

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SCBWI-LA Writers & Illustrators Day 2017 (Links Edition)

booksI was asked by SCBWI-LA to write about my experience at the recent WID. The piece is up on the Kite Tales blog. 1, 2, 3: LINK. Such a luxury for me to discard certain hats (taxi-mama, chef of sorts, zoo-keeper, 3rd Grade Common Core Math Interpreter, foam swords fighter, Wii-U games competitor, etc.) and sit in a comfy, aesthetically pleasing theatre with my notebook and listen, absorb, learn for an entire day. Plus, as I maybe mildly emphasize in the piece, lunch was included in the program and it was Wow Delicious, served in a sunny courtyard. I had the generously mounding tuna salad croissant. I haven’t had a croissant in years. This croissant made up for all I’ve been missing. Moving on: The Day came with a mini-bookfair. The books I purchased:

  1. Wired For Story, Lisa Cron (What!!!! Like me, pre-WID, you do not have this book??? Get it get it get it!!!!)
  2. Over And Under The Snow, Kate Messner, art by Christopher Silas Neal. If you read my piece, yes, this is the picture book I mention about the subnivian zone. That’s right: THE SUBNIVIAN ZONE. Ha! Fabulous.

And now–back to work on revisions to my MG novel due to feedback I received from the WID. One of the joys of being an SCBWI member means one can attend WIDs and submit one’s work for critique by an industry agent, editor, author. The notes I received continue to inspire me to rise at 5:30a.m. and get in some work before the house erupts at 6:20a.m. and I don my (fairly sketchy) chef’s hat.

Yours in productivity and focus, focus, focus,

PB

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Kids Poetry Night

poetrynightTuesday, February 28th, a freaky political event occurred on TV, but also Poetry Night at my son’s school. Children and parents gathered to read/share poems from books they brought to the event and books supplied by the school’s librarian. Loved hearing the kids read. Plus, there was hot chocolate, ladled out by the principal–she added GOBS of mini-marshmallows to each cup. The school librarian and my son’s 3rd grade teacher made the rounds of those attending. It was a crisp, outdoors, invigorating, end-of-February-night. With magic. I truly love this school.

Of all the poems in the book my son brought to the evening (his book of choice a gift from a novelist/friend before he was born) he chose to read a poem from Sylvia Plath’s “The Bed Book”. He read it so well. Why? Because he related to the poem’s whimsy, reality, truth when it comes to beds and how we experience our padded night-nights. Yes, poetry speaks to children (and their bookworm moms).

Love that parents support their children reading poetry aloud, encourage them to read poetry, absorb it, and, hopefully, write it, write it, write it.

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SCBWI Event Coming Up!

scbwiI am looking forward to next Saturday, 2/25/17. The Skirball is a choice location, indeed. Are you going? If so, see you there!

https://losangeles.scbwi.org/events/writers-illustrators-day/

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Healing By Degrees (FB Edition)

“What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” —-WS, Othello 

hugo

Hugo

I’m talking Snapchattish-brief degrees. My impatience won out. I weeded Facebook ‘friends’ after the election and the first peaceful march–in which I marched, peacefully, surrounded by like minds. After this weeding and marching I felt/feel: So much better. No more anxiety that the sexist/pervert I knew for two seconds in high school (and who clearly hasn’t changed much) will object, nasty-passive-aggressively, to my FB posts supporting Planned Parenthood, Gloria Steinem, belly dancers, or non-support of giraffes slaughtered for sport, fins hacked off of sharks, ivory sold for sick profit. No longer will that friend of a friend of friends (who may or may not be my actual friends) be allowed to go psycho on my timeline when I post a photo of #45 neck deep in ‘Star Trek’ Tribbles. This ‘friend’ let me know: I am sure he (ie., #45) will surround himself with people in the WH who will guide him to make good choices. Riiight. WEEDED. No longer will that former friend of a best friend accuse me of promoting a double standard when I post my adoration of Michelle Obama, a woman he despises (because he’s a mansplaining “Christian” who believes women should be saved, by him, if he deems them attractive enough). BLOCKED. No longer will I cringe when family members (who have forgotten, or never knew how to behave like family) post bits such as: LAUGHING AT THE LOSER LIBTARDS. I don’t have to  see certain posts. Why? Because: I HAVE THAT FB OPTION.

kitten

Diggory

WaPo, The New Yorker, NY Times, Guardian, Atlantic, NPR Weekend Edition, Robert Reich, Rebecca Solnit, Bernie Sanders, JK Rowling, Bette Midler, Bill Moyers, 350.org, Dan Rather, Debra Messing, Kamala Harris, Minnie Driver, NRDC big-time on FB and Twitter, Dianne Feinstein, Susan Orlean, Moby, Anne Lamott, Terry Tempest Williams, Michael Moore, LikeAGirlProductions,  Peter Alexander, Pam Houston’s soothing pix, Cheryl Strayed, Asha Dornfest, Michael T. Williams (yogi-cool), anything anti-DAPL and whatever Michelle Obama has to say. I am connected to my own evolving cabinet as the fruitcake keeps on hitting the madly whirring fan.

panda

Stuffo

Yours by degrees in these attention-snipped times and yours in vigilant fact-hunting and yours in escaping, here and there, the constant madness with cute animal pix,

PB

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Hearts

  1. Just. So. Simply. Timely. And simply nice.dolphinjump_animation_group_loop_large
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SCBWI

126962_5Have you registered for the (Los Angeles chapter) SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Day 2017? It’s happening February 25th at the Skirball Cultural Center, a venue I once frequented in order to exercise my former toddler in the  intriguingly lit Noah’s Ark exhibit. It’s a beautiful setting atop Mulholland Drive and promises to be an informative day. Check it out here: SCBWI

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On Rejection

Recently I was lucky enough to have a conversation with someone I deeply respect and I was moaning a little about rejections I’ve received lately. The person suggested I stop callxmas-bouqueting them ‘rejections’ and refer to them instead as ‘No Thank You’s’. Because unless they tell you specifically (the person continued), you have no idea why they are passing on your work, not really, so why let it get you down? REJECTION implies a kind of OMG-I’ve-been-kicked-to-the-curb message to yourself. But you’re not lying in the gutter wasting away. You’re up and running like never before. If you receive a ‘no thank you’ in your inbox, it’s just that. And if you believe the Universe, or God, or whatever deity or force you believe in, is truly taking care of you, has your back, then any ‘no thank you’ makes perfect sense. Only the best for you, the person urged. Even if you’re an atheist. Remember that.

And I said: Thank you for the advice.

And meant it.

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Brief Reverie (w/Iron)

s1

As I was ironing my husband’s dress shirts last night: channeled a story about 3 lifelong friends who unfriend each other on Facebook due to arguments over whether certain basic inalienable rights should be basic and inalienable at all (buying organic vs. Tyson or supporting NRDC vs. Energy Transfer Partners or ‘liking’ Bill Nye The Science Guy’s FB page vs. Fox News or why the word ‘science’ complements the word ‘climate’ or the fact that the world is round, not flat), issues brought to sudden forefront due to a countrywide election resulting in the win of a fascist, obsessively tweeting dictator. THIS IS ON YOU! the one friend who did not vote for the fascist dictator shouts in text before severing friendships and removing herself from Facebook altogether with screams of rage and confusion. She proceeds to fume and worry and eventually not even listen to NPR as she raises her sweet, organic-foods-eating, people-loving 9 year old son in the new, dark regime, meticulously gathering wholesomeness fallout from a country’s shocking explosion/implosion, hoarding it in apron pockets, gifting nuggets to her family, keeping her front doorstep swept and tended and lit, in focus.

Ho, ho, ho!

Could never happen. I should switch to writing dystopian fiction.

Ho.

Ho.

Ho…

 

 

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Flurry

s24Newsflash: It’s December, 2016.

I know because the seasonal falling snow plugin is up and running on WordPress.

Tonight, we welcomed in December’s Holiday craziness with snowman carousing and a bit of tubing on Leo Politi’s old property in Elysian Park. My son, my husband and I teetered on hot chocolate sugar highs and high-fived at the top of the tubing slide. We couldn’t take a family photo in the well advertised giant inflatable snow globe because it was constantly deflating, I watched two strangers berate each other for snowball flinging crimes in the tiny snowball flinging pit–and I filmed my son dancing to contemporary music in a simulated snow flurry and I marveled at how he absolutely did not care if anyone was watching him. That’s a first for him, considering I couldn’t get him to dance with me at the last school Mother/Son dance. Maybe there’s hope for next year’s. His attitude? One to adopt as we head into a nutty time of year.

Hallelujah and happy shopping. Here we go! s16

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Turkey Day Craze

I may as well have woken up in a luxurious spa-hotel, expecting breakfast in bed, or morning tea on an ocean-view patio, sipping from real china in a froofy dressing gown, in any case a stress-free morning despite it being Thanksgiving and I was hosting, so positive was I that everything was prepped. Slide the bird in the oven, good to go, I thought, humming as I tugged on my cave girl boot slippers and pulled a knee-length sweatshirt over my head, having slept in an extra 30 minutes, bectg3aause everything was so marvelously under control, I thought, shuffling cheerily into the living room, greeting relatives and five dogs, my sweet son and my husband, who handed me a steaming mug of creamy coffee. Good morning, I sing-songed, turning on the oven, loving the sunshine, the view from the kitchen window of finches and doves sharing the feeder in the front yard. Let’s get the turkey in the oven! I said, to which my mother replied, Hun, where is your roasting pan? Why, it’s right, I said, bending down to a lower cupboard, reaching, peering, asking my husband for a flashlight, probing, Why it’s right–

WHERE IS MY ROASTING PAN!

I ransacked the office, laundry room, linen closet, backyard shed, the tiny crawl space of attic, my son’s closet, closeted suitcases, the recycling cupboard, the long outdoor chest we keep patio chair cushions in.

No pan.

Ten minutes later I scoured the aisles of the Albertsons a few blocks from us, discovering the last roasting pan with no rack, and the last roasting pan with a rack. I purchased them both and zoomed home, but the 25lb bird didn’t fit in either pan, even when my husband broke the rack and bent it slightly, basically just making everything worse.

TOO HIGH, THE  BIRD’S SITTING TOO HIGH!

My husband assured me I was in no shape to drive, so he zoomed us to Vons. No pans. No racks. We headed East, 5 miles up Tampa, hitting every red light before reaching the posh Ralphs in Porter Ranch, which had a giant aluminum roasting pan, but no racks.

THERE ARE NO PAN-RACK SETS! WHY? WHY??? WHERE IS THE MANAGER???

But my husband insisted he could make the rack he’d broken work and with only minutes to spare for turkey-must-be-in-the-oven-time, we made it home. My husband was right: The mutilated rack worked perfectly. I stuffed the bird, draped the breast in cheesecloth soaked in butter and wine and with a final scream shoved it in the oven. Hun, my mom said, You might want to brush out the back of your hair and–take a shower.

I did, four hours later, after locating my chafing dishes, which needed washing, locating and washing the turkey platter, locating the electric knife blatg2ade holder, but not the blades themselves, locating non-electric carving knives I didn’t even know I had, washing those, pulling various dishes from the refrigerator I’d forgotten about (THE MARINATED GRILLED VEGETABLES THE SALMON FLORENTINE THE OVEN BAKED GLUTEN FREE STUFFING), and engaging in a brief, fairly aggressive game of badminton. Right before we were to eat, I quickly showered and shampooed, yanked on a dress, and, barefoot (it was mid-seventies outside), brushed my hair. I ate with a wet head. And a giant glass of chardonnay I raised for the toast, grateful for family, my badminton champion son, my hero husband, this life. Ah…Luxury.

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Dug Out

L0028072 Caricature: Moments when life is worth livingEons ago my wisdom teeth came out far easier than this morning’s Tooth #4, which my dentist described as having a curved root, meaning: curve-ball for what should have been a pretty quick procedure.

‘See?’ my dentist said. He twisted my liberated tooth in the air with tweezers as if displaying both trophy and the Elephant Man. ‘Curved!’  My mouth was stuffed with cotton to stop the bleeding. Why do dentists always ask questions of their patients when speech is impossible? I grunted something, god knows what. ‘Different is good!’ my dentist insisted as I felt saliva, or was it blood, reach my chin. ‘It wasn’t a problem,” he said, as though assuring me. “Just different.’

When I returned home, a pack of frozen peas pressed to my cheek, all I wanted was to watch Sigourney Weaver survive in ‘Alien’. But my 9 year old son was present, so I encouraged him to build Legos on the coffee table while I sprawled on the couch, pickled in Advil, and watched ‘The Durrells in Corfu’. Until, that is, my empathic, animal loving boy objected to the crude leash around the pelican young Gerald Durrell had captured. ‘You’re right,’ I agreed, hastily switching off the TV before my son’s tears could gain momentum. I rubbed his back and had him explain his latest Lego creation, aware of the gap in my mouth, thinking: I get why people want to keep their gall bladders, bottle their tonsils, stick a renegade tooth in a pretty box that lives on a bookshelf. That curved root was a challenge for my dentist AND me (as my fingers ripped the rips in the thighs of my jeans). Was me. A personal, intimate burr. Gone.

It’s okay, Love, it’s okay.

Listen: Metaphor rarely becomes me.

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For The Boids

birdsElection night: 2 friends offended. By me. Thought I was being funny with my online responses. Hah!

Now? Rampant Victors assure me Trump won’t REALLY do all he assured us he will absolutely do if elected. Trump voters in post-election denial. I say: The high school in Penn., for instance. Meanwhile in Ill, for instance. Check out UC Davis, for instance. Hate crimes all, all there to read about. No denial possible.

In times like these–in times like these (!!!)–in times like these I take a moment to gaze at my salt and pepper shakers. Because they provide an alternative to percolating blood pressure–before I, for one, move on to clear and present reality. And deal with it the best I can.

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Island Infusion

006Recently a boat deposited me on Santa Rosa Island for a few days, one of a handful of remote scapes comprising the Channel Islands National Park .

I traveled with a geologist, an art dealer and two canvas artists who brought their cameras to capture inspiration for future plein air works of art. Listening to facts about sediment and ancient orogeny, observations on tone and color as the sunlight and fast-moving clouds changed our surroundings sometimes minute to minute, I felt inspired, educated and fortunate and I missed my husband and son, wanting them to experience the wild ocean, mountains and scampering, indigenous foxes with me. And especially that tent-sleeping part. One day…

0591.  As we hiked through a forest of Torrey pines, explored (or napped on) the windy beach, tackled the climb to Bear Mountain, I often flashed on John Muir, his love for Yosemite that made him famous enough for Teddy Roosevelt to visit him there (even though Muir tried to get out of the meeting–luckily to no avail); because seeing is believing. Because clearly believing can lead to awe and respect, which can lead to a healthy desire to protect the precious and vanishing (the indigenous island fox is now back from extinction’s precipice).

2.  Constantly thankful (as when I discovered half of a gleaming abalone shell on the beach, or watched the sun rise over the silent campground) for writers like Barry Lopez, Eowyn Ivey, John McPhee and so many others graced with a talent for making landscapes live–because when seeing-to-believe isn’t an option, their works make reading-to-believe a reality.

3. So important to pack fresh blueberries and cream when camping–also fajitas and organic corn tortillas, artisanal cheeses and gourmet crackers, and lentil-carnitas stew. And coffee. Of course coffee. And whiskey. I forgot to bring the schnapps, but it wasn’t missed, so I assure you it is actually fine to cross schnapps off your camping list–but never hot chocolate. A beach towel. And, you know, drinking water is pretty vital…

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4. Reminded that getting away from regular life is an opportunity for creative inspiration to zap the soul. At the top of Bear Mountain, I found a key ingredient to the novel I’m working on, discovered in the scenery and thanks to the murmurs around me. Aha! I thought. Aha…

5. Reminded that absence makes an already fondness-filled heart swell to bursting with gratitude and love and can be an antidote to writer’s block.

Not meaning to go all didactic on you. Just the urge to share after returning from a wilderness. Maybe trek to Santa Rosa if you can, before they add the proposed hotel and paved roads. Confident the artists I traveled with will help in the struggle to keep the wild in the wild (seeing is believing, seeing is believing), but–oh, Teddy! Paradise needs you, Sir. And definitely Muir, roaring down from the pines to shoo away insensitive change.

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