Sunday, August 31, 2014

Several Observations From This Scene or Three Suitcases, Three Trips


*These three unpacked suitcases give new meaning to the phrase "Living out of a Suitcase." Granted, one of the three trips was unexpected, and there wasn't much time in between packing and unpacking. 

*We have too many suitcases if this child can pack without first unpacking. The kitchen equivalent would be never having to wash bowls because there's always a clean one.

*Why unpack if you'll be leaving again? Soon? 

*Children leave because they tire of Mom/Dad yelling "Clean your room!" Or "Unpack!"

*Children are meant to leave home. 

*This child moves out in two days. And that is why children move out, so this image of catastrophe, can be so endearing to the mother who will miss this child.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

It's only August and I'm already getting excited for my third annual birthday shopping extravaganza with my one and only granddaughter Annika. After I took her shopping the first year when she was turning seven, I made a video of her performance. Yes, performance. Annika danced and sang her way through the clothes she picked out and tried on--and most of the dancing was a la Katy Perry and  Michael Jackson. The second year, I took photos and notes--a play by play account of the cherished afternoon and unexpected evening:

I pick her up from school and the first thing she tells me is: "I was so excited all day, I could hardly wait for school to end."

We begin the trip with an after school snack and given a choice of anyplace or anything, she chooses McDonalds for the new shamrock shake. Her mother isn't a McD fan and I know she's never been. A little inquiry and I learn that she heard about the delicious shake from her older and beloved cousin Ellie.  Content and quiet in the backseat, slurping the shake, I don't hear from her again until we pass Harmon's grocery and she asks, "Have you ever tried their mint brownies? They are the best." Again a recommendation from her admired older cousin.

A week previous, I'd sent Annika an e-inviation via her mother's email: My dear Royal Highness, the pleasure of your company is requested for a birthday shopping trip--and please leave your dragon at home.

The birthday shopping trip did not originate with me. My parents started the tradition of taking each of their five granddaughters shopping on their birthdays. It brought them so much joy, which I didn't completely understand until I became the grandmother. I don't enjoy shopping except for Annika's birthday, and unfortunately, I never enjoyed shopping with my own daughters. There was always too much pressure and tug of war over the price of a prom dress or the too shortness or tightness of a skirt or shorts my daughters wanted to wear.

Not only is Annika a shopping-blast but the goofier the outfit, the more sequins the better--it's kind of a revenge on her mother for the years when she was a developing girl, and a boy magnet and I wanted to protect her by dressing her modestly. She challenged me with phrases such as,  "I'm going to buy a bikini." Great. So when Annika chooses the red velvet dress that looks like a Vegas lounge singer, I smile and say, "You look adorable; your mother will love it. Or when she wants a white shirt and shorts that will stain by week's end, I say "They're lovely."

But tonight the revenge has backfired. After two hours of intense shopping, bargaining and haggling over the right dress, shorts, pants and shirts, I'm hungry and worn out and call my husband to meet us for a birthday dinner.

"No Grandma, we have to go to Classic skating. "

What! My nighttime old-body screams. That wasn't part of the birthday shopping bargain. A quick phone call to her mother confirms that DF Elementary is sponsoring a free skating night--and it's on the way home. How can I tell her no? So here I am sitting among all the young parents waiting, trying to keep track of mine, amidst the gaggle of children running amok through giant climbing blow-ups, jumping things and slides, little people on scooters and skates, while sitting at an abandoned table with abandoned old chips with that orange gross nacho cheese sauce, wanting the night to end.

I catch a glimpse of her leading her little friends across bridges, up stairs and down slides. She is totally caught up in the urgency of the moment and I smile, even laugh knowing once again the joy is all mine. Knowing one day that my daughter will carry on the tradition and take her granddaughter birthday shopping.

On the way home, driving down a dark street, the wind rushing about us, I hear Annika's tiny voice in the backseat of the car. "Thank you Grandma." No mother around to remind her but from the pureness of her delighted, worn out little soul.

Back at home, another fashion show for her mom. Everything meets her approval except a sleeveless dress that  I only saw as beautiful. My daughter's mother's eye sees that the armholes are too big and they don't protect the modesty of her eight year old daughter. It's ok because that's the mother's job to notice those things--not the job of the grandmother. I learned that long ago when Annika was staying at our house. She came upstairs wearing what I saw as a summer dress in winter, and I advised her to go and change. She replied in her snappy five year old voice, "You're not my mom!"

My mind flooded with illumination, "You're right!" I declared with joy. "I'm not and I'm not the one who needs to nag or send you back to your room for warmer clothes. THANK YOU Annika!"

And that is in part why I look so forward to birthday clothes shopping with Annika in February 2015! As her grandmother, I can enjoy the shopping for the pure joy of it without those important mother responsibilities reigning us both in.

Friday, August 29, 2014


My grandson wears a broad-rimmed camouflage hat; it's well worn, comfortable and protective. I compliment him. 

"You gave this to me Grandma!" he says.

"I did?" It takes me a few seconds, but then I remember where it came from and why it has that well worn luxuriousness~~I found it in the surf. Crusted with seaweed and sea life, the seams bulging with hard-packed sand, I picked it up knowing the owner was long gone. This hat could have blown overboard and floated up from Mexico or down from Alaska. This hat was River Booty!

I first learned about River Booty on the Salmon River. A perfect trip--my husband, three of my four children, solitude, nature, and someone else cooking the meals. John, one of the river guides was a muscular, handsome sixteen year old whom my then six year old daughter had attached her self to. When given the chance, she would snatch a wonderful faded, khaki, safari hat right off his head. Perfectly worn, the combination of sun, water and wear, I understood why she went for the hat. Or was it really the boy? Last day of the trip, we had docked, unloaded and said good-bye. My six year old was wearing the worn khaki safari hat. "Hey," I said, "give that back to John." John heard me but he wanted her to have it. I insisted he take it back, but off he paddled, "It's river booty."

Since that first experience, I've learned there's more than one type of booty.

Beach booty. There is a long stretch of isolated California beach between two points of civilization, high-priced condominiums and a campground. One morning, a patch of turquoise blue catches my eye while running the beach. I turn around and pick up the sand encrusted bag. I wipe it off and find a soft suede pouch that reads TiffanysNo way. Savoring the possibility of its contents, I keep running as fast as my imagination. Is it a large diamond, an emerald studded bracelet? A scorned lover's note is inside; she has reclaimed her independence by tossing his gift into the sea. There's a beautiful bracelet inside but the real jewel is the note.

Road booty. One morning I am home with a project of stapling six hundred pages. I don't have time for this but it has to be done. My first whack at the stapler and the staple emerges crooked and weak, and the stapler is jammed. I pry it open to discover there are no staples. Still in my pajamas, 7:45 in the morning, I am driving my daughter to school. I pass in the road a shiny object that looks like a…no it couldn't be. I back up and closer to the shiny object, open the car door and lift with awe and reverence an office quality, brand new stapler full of staples. It's hard to imagine how a stapler landed here this morning; someone will miss it but if I leave it in the street it will be smashed unusable to anyone.

Give-Back Booty-or easy come, easy go: Another beach walk, another day. I find a cap, dirty, filled with sand, Cayman Islands is embroidered on the front. I lovingly wash the sand out. It fits my head perfectly and has been worn to perfect softness. It is my favorite hat for years. One day, on a boat ride off the coast of Belize, the boat unexpectedly picks up speed and the hat is whipped from my head. I watch it fade into the wake. Easy come--easy go; hopefully, someone is feeling lucky.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ode to Fresh Salsa

I have come to the realization that I cook like I think, or I think like I cook; and I'm not sure if this is a good thing.

The realization came when I wanted to make a second food post about salsa.

Once again, I saw that I didn't follow a recipe. Actually, there isn't a recipe for this salsa. Making it is a haphazard, disorganized, creative, trial and error way of doing. And if I'm completely honest with myself, it's also how I think. If I need to be organized, and that is often, it takes focus. So much, that it's  like trying to bend a giant redwood.

August is salsa month at our house, because there's nothing that beats the taste and healthiness of fresh salsa. The most important component of good salsa is vine ripened tomatoes. Grocery store tomatoes never work! If you don't have garden tomatoes, find a farmer's market or a fresh vegetable stand or a gardening neighbor who loves you.

Salsa instructions: Start with a few tomatoes. Cut into fourths.

Any kind of chiles will do. How many is determined by personal taste. Slice and take out the seeds as this is where the heat is stored. You may want to leave a few seeds in. Be careful not to touch the seeds with your hands-the heat is skin transferable--and then when you touch your eyes! Aiiyiiyiii...
Cilantro is always optional. Start with less of the peppers and cilantro and add more for desired flavor.

Onion is a must. I like it in both big chunks and small. I usually use a half to a whole for a standard size batch. Dump all ingredients into the cuisinart. I put the thicker onions on the bottom and add according to texture, tomatoes always at the top.
Sprinkle with salt.

A few pulses on the cuisineart. It's important to not overprocess. It's better to hand cut a few chunks than to keep processing. Taste. Adjust flavors.

The finished product!

Enjoy.  I've even used red bell peppers and cucumbers but it wasn't a husband favorite.

Speaking of husband's and recipe-less brains, Tony has told me on numerous occasions that he would like to spend a day in my brain! Aaaack! This would be terrible as he may never recuperate. It would be like standing him in Times Square, blindfolding him, turning him in a hundred circles and telling him "Good luck, find your way home."   I, on the other hand, would hate to spend even a minute in his brain. His brain seems like a strait jacket of equations, algorithms and brain twisting logic. Oh and there's all that time thinking about ice cream!

Yet, our different thinking patterns have served us well in individual and combined pursuits.

For the most part the children were fed, clothed and raised with decency and we always paid our bills. I'm pretty sure we've led a good life, have made many friends and fewer enemies.

Conclusion: We may be opposites in certain brain functions but we've survived and thrived and fortunately, the children seem to have gotten a balanced mixture of both-parent, brain-DNA.

Postscript: I have Tony read this post and true to our contrast, he says, "I put the tomatoes on the bottom."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stock Memories

My dad used to get up early each morning and go to the gym, and when we were at the beach, his habit continued.

When the gym opened at six a.m., he was waiting at the door. 

A little later in the morning, I'd take my kayak out and by the time I was paddling back to shore, I'd see my father sitting on a bench above the beach. From far away he was just a small figure. I'd bring the kayak in on a good wave trying to make my dad proud. Like a child even though I was an adult.

And then I'd sit beside him for a morning chat. 

When he sat on that bench, he told me, he always thought of his parents.

My sister says that Dad was always Zen before it was cool to be Zen. She remembers taking problems, requests or ideas to him and he would say, "Let me meditate on that."

Yet, my father wasn't always a calm man, and perhaps this is why those quiet contemplative moments of his~~we treasure so deeply. 

Today was my first day on the beach since he died. I didn't know what it would feel like to pass his bench and know he would never sit there again. The first time I looked up, the bench was empty. Empty. As I kept walking past, I looked back and I started to imagine him sitting as he always did. Every few yards, I'd look back and I would see him even more clearly.

The process of memories seem to parallel the process of making vegetable stock. We start with a big pot of vegetables. Hours pass and the carrots, potatoes, and celery reduce into a stronger flavor. The bitterness and blandness evaporates. It eventually turns to liquid and we strain out the unnecessary bits; the liquid lessens and what is left at the bottom is more concentrated with a better flavor.

My memories of my father, I expect to boil down-- the less important or sad memories will evaporate and the memories dear will become stronger and more visceral. 

I will always recall and hold dear my father and I sitting on the bench above the water. I will remember his soft and tender emotions, of the times he said he was thinking of his parents. And so the memory is now left to me to sit on an oceanside bench to think of my parent, my dad.

My place on the bench contemplating memories with Dad.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I'm Not a Mother, I'm A Motherguilt

We sacrifice our bodies, possibly our lives, often give up education, careers, luxuries~~ essentially our children become our life luxuries. It is them for whom we forgo sleep, friends, routine, hobbies, space; we choose high-end strollers, non allergenic formula, diapers by the dozens over new jeans, shoes, dental work and vacations. All this and yet, I still hear the best mothers say, "I feel so guilty."

These words came from the sweet dental hygienist while I waited for the dentist. She is a family acquaintance--so we have a small a history beyond this reclining dental chair. Her guilt because she leaves her two children three days a week to help ends meet. In other words, to put food on the table and pay the mortgage.

"I feel bad when I have to hurry them out the door to get to work. I feel guilty when I don't see their first step or when I'm not there for the first day of school, or when they are sick and they still have to go to the baby sitter's." And the babysitter two out of three days a week-- is Grandma.

I can relate and have come to believe that motherhood and guilt are synonyms, two word companions for the most important job a woman will ever have. It's unavoidable and in spite of all we do for them, we can never do enough. My own mother still feels horrible about the time she gave me an antidote for cramps and I had an intense reaction--and that was forty years ago.

With most of my mothering years behind me, when I recall the days of tiny shoes and high chairs, I first remember the moments that still almost make me cry--the chaos of taking many children for ice cream and not realizing Jillian wasn't in the car; the infected baby chick that required emergency surgery on our four year old; the time I didn't answer the phone and it was my child's school; the time I was too harsh on the toddler who wouldn't stay in her bed --STOP! The guilt is washing over me even now and my stomach feels like it's a dryer with sneakers and towels, circling, bumping against the sides. I am not a mother, I am motherguilt.

However, I have a remedy. I fill my mind with the good-mother-stuff: the night I drove an hour and stayed up until morning to help my college student write a paper; the miles I drove for soccer games; the dinners I made when I never felt like making dinner; the all-nighters holding a newborn; returning to the store for another sheet of poster board; Christmas morning.

The highs and the lows are memorable, but I still need to go one step further--I need to remember the everyday, the mundane, the consistency. The love. Because love is an always regardless of the shortcomings, the mistakes, the inability to do magic, which is really what it would take to be the perfect mother, a mother without guilt.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mimi Lost and Found is Off

Approximately five months ago, an agent asked for an R&R of ML&F. R&R is a re-write and request. The agent made some brilliant requests to fix holes in the character development and plot. Everything she suggested rang true.

I would have thought I would have finished it much sooner, but editing takes time and I relied heavily on readers for suggestions. And readers have busy lives. I couldn't assume edits were more important than time with their family or time persuing their own interests.

But I determined that I would finish the re-write before I left for Coronado on August 23rd. Our flight required that we leave our house at 1:00 p.m.

I woke up Saturday morning at 5:00 a.m. to finish the last edits. I finished by 8:00 so I went back to sleep until 9:30, then woke up for the final read through of the second half. Again, I was determined to send it off via email before I left.

At 12:50, I was still in my pajamas and I hadn't packed. I hollered for Paloma to please retrieve a suitcase from the basement. I love that she quietly went about her own packing and helping, never busting my chops for fear of missing the plane. She knew I would come through.

I finished composing the short email to the agent and hit SEND~Converted the manuscript into a PDF and sent that too. Dashed into my closet, threw on clothes, opened the suitcase and started tossing clothes, underclothes, a few books, ~~ran downstairs for shoes, back to my study to stuff my computer and phone into my carry on. Into the bathroom to toss a few things into a toiletry bag. Back to the kitchen to load a ziploc with plums and nectarines from a neighbor's tree (I hadn't eaten yet). Back upstairs to grab the boarding passes.

Paloma and I were pulling out of the driveway at 1:07. Only 17 minutes from submission to dressing and packing for a five day trip.

Did I forget anything? Yes, but nothing I couldn't do without. Did I have crazy-lady hair? Yes. Did it matter? No. I'd finished and submitted my manuscript!!!

Now what? Well, finishing and submitting a manuscript is like buying a lottery ticket. I bought the ticket, but does it mean I'll win? Of course not-we all know the odds. But it is just one of many important steps a writer must take. And the step was taken in a memorable rush.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tender Mercies

At the  beach house, Tony comes upstairs with a certain look, that demeanor and pause that means something important has just happened.

"I think I just had a tender mercy," he says.

I'm silent and a little nervous to hear.

"I was in the water and I had an impression to look down. A stingray (with a long barb) was directly in the path of my next step."

Stingray stings are torture. He was humbly grateful.

Notice he called the missed mishap a tender mercy.

In April 2005 David A. Bednar gave a talk in LDS general conference: The Tender Mercies of the Lord. It was a watershed moment for many people who began to notice the little blessings or the moments we often attribute to luck, or coincidence. Bednar attributed them to a caring Lord who watches over us. He writes, "Through personal study, observation, pondering, and prayer, I believe I have come to better understand that the Lord's tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ."

It is gratitude that helps us to recognize and cherish tender  mercies.

A few weeks ago, when I had to take a different flight, my purchase was last-hour and I was one of the last people assigned to board the plane. By the time I started down the aisles of the full flight, there were very few seating choices. None in the front of the plane, yet, I knew I had to get off fast in order to make my next flight. The first open seat was in a row with two little boys.  Most people had kept on walking at the prospect of a two hour flight next to the little guys, but I saw it as a refuge. At the end of the flight, the brothers started hugging and saying how much they loved each other. I was touched and reminded of my father and his brothers and the imminent reunion of their love.

A tender mercy.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Eleanor's Poem

This poem is known as Eleanor Roosevelt's wartime poem and that she kept it in her wallet during WWII. I am unsure if she wrote it or not, because I can't find an author.

Dear Lord
Lest I continue my complacent way,
help me to remember that somewhere,
Somehow out there
A man died for me today.
As long as there be war,
I then must
Ask and answer
Am I worth dying for?

Author unknown

Friday, August 22, 2014

Optimizing the Situation

Tony and I spent an evening at a friend's cabin with a few other couples. We had a scrumptious dinner and for dessert, there were a couple of frozen pies. The woman who had brought the pies started thawing them five hours previous to dinner but at 8:00 they were still not completely thawed. I noticed my husband in the kitchen moving the pies around and feeling the kitchen counter tops. I thought it was a little strange until he told me he was optimizing the situation. As the pie sat on the counter, the warmth in the counter sucked out the cold but held the cold in the spot; by moving the pies around he was optimizing the warmth and cutting down the length of defrost time. He also taught me that optimizing is something that computer scientists do all the time.

One thing I love about the contrast between my husband and me: he thinks completely different. I would never think of a pie defrost exercise--or optimizing the situation--but I plan to.
Optimizing the Situation in 2007

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Food Ties That Bind Us or The Impossible-To-Ruin Pie

In the past few days, I started to think about cottage cheese pie. I grew up on it and it is still a favorite. My grandmother used to make this pie and she claimed it was a way to use up cottage cheese on the verge of going bad.

The cottage cheese pie tradition passed to my mom and it became a regular part of her Thanksgiving pie canon. Mom took it out of the oven and set it on the stove to cool and it rarely made it into the fridge. It was delicious warm out of the oven and just as delicious cold the next day.

It wasn't long before Mom started adding canned pineapple to the pie. It's her nature to experiment and to be creative. It became Dad's favorite version.

The pie recipe passed to me and it's now a regular on our family menu.

Whenever I visited Dad, I'd make him a cottage cheese pie. Or two.

So there it is in a baking nutshell--the cottage cheese pie legacy. The beauty and detriment to the pie is that any variation on the basic recipe works. Yesterday's effort proved  it could take the worst punishment and still turn out. I forgot to add the melted butter, forgot to separate and whip the egg whites, baked it in the wrong temperature and worst of all, I cooked it in a smoky oven.

Keep in mind, I never measure ingredients and never go to the store for the ingredients to make cottage cheese pie. I use what I have.

Yesterday's variation included vanilla yogurt in place of cream or sour cream.

First the pie crust recipe I've used for years and it has never failed me. The notes are my husband's addition. It is a friend's family recipe book and I'm guessing Jeannie is somebody's favorite aunt.
 Before I add the liquids-
 In the oven
Here is the basic pie recipe. Remember, the more you vary and experiment, the more you honor its legacy.
We take this recipe so for granted--it's recorded only on a scrap of paper yellowed by time. When I dug this out of an old yellow recipe box with a missing lid, I saw that I've been using 4 eggs instead of 3 for a few years and it never mattered.
Separate 3 eggs-beat whites until stiff

cottage cheese
1/2 cup cream ( any kind)
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg (actually forgot this was in the recipe--haven't added for years)
1/4 cup melted butter

Bake @ 450 for 10 minutes, then @350 for 20 - 30 minutes. True to form, I've never timed it-I just watch it close.

And that's it. Really. Next time I make this, I'm adding fresh lemon juice.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Your Sense of Adventure

It was a dark and stormy night… (really) in the wild interior ofWyoming. My friends Dave and Jeanne were sitting cozily in their home, when Jeanne remembered that she had an errand to run. The errand wasn’t an absolute necessity so she hesitated until her husband Dave said to her, “Where’s your sense of adventure?”

Jeanne jumped in the car with her sense of adventure leading the way, unaware of how bad the weather really was. Her destination was approximately ten miles away on a dirt road. The rain was coming down in torrents that made driving on the muddy road similar to driving on ice. Jeanne slid back and forth until she slid into a deep ditch. She couldn’t determine whether she was closer to home or the nearest neighbor. She climbed out of the car, into the muddy earth, and was pelted with rain.When Jeanne reached the nearest neighbor she was totally drenched and equally miserable. The neighbor pulled her car out of the ditch and Jeanne cautiously ventured home without her sense of adventure.

Some years later, Jeanne retells the story about the night she lost her sense of adventure. I’m thinking how lucky she is to know where she left it.

As adults we may not even realize our sense of adventure is missing; but if we pause and listen,  the evidence may be blaring: Are we too cautious, too boring? When was the last time we vacationed? Made a new friend? Took a class?

When I look at this photo of children I love, I remember watching them climb on the water banana with their sense of adventure leading the way. Can you see it on their faces? More importantly, can you see it on your own?

My children and friends' children with their sense of adventure intact

PS: I feel my sense of adventure waning--sometimes. So, last spring when I was ocean kayaking and Max came a long for a ride, I heard the most cherished words ever: "Grandma! You're dangerous!"

We had ventured into the surf and we cut the curl of a wave just a little to close. As it threatened to wrap over our heads, it looked like we were going to get slammed, but I paddled even harder and we made it safely--and got a great ride.  It scared Max just enough to utter those precious words: "Grandma! You're dangerous."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My Father's Tribute 8-16-2014

As a pre teen in seventh or eight grade, one night, I snuck out of Loraine’s front bedroom window to go driving with my friend Margaret. That I knew how to drive is another story—Dad made sure we were all proficient drivers at a young age.

I had stopped the car and we were talking to friends. I looked into the rear view mirror and I saw my mom in her station wagon turn around the corner. My foot hit the accelerator and I  took off, fast, with Mom hot on my tail. There were screeches around corners,  all the moves of the quintessential chase scene, but I couldn’t lose her.  I made it home before her, threw Margaret’s mother’s car into park and ran into the front window where Loraine let me in. I went straight to my room and waited for the consequences.

Mom came in,  angry and I don’t remember exactly what happened, but she finished and she told me Dad was coming in. I’m sure I was shaking. When he entered the room, he was taller and thicker  than I had ever remembered. I expected the worse. As he walked towards me, my heart beat faster and then something totally unexpected: He put his arms around me and held me close and I wept. I don’t even remember any words. Just comfort, forgiveness, and love—pure love, charity—the pure love of Christ for a foolish child.

At the very core of all my thoughts about my father, is the absolute that his love was deep and pure.  That love shown to me my whole life grew and extended as Dad  had sons in law, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He set a pattern that made it easy for me to believe there was a Father in Heaven who also loved me unconditionally, and who like my earthly father made it very clear what was right or wrong, what was expected; and when expectations weren’t met, there were course corrections.

As the mother of four children, I have seen the miracle of life, the first breath of life. I am now profoundly thankful for the miracle of death, that my father was able to leave a weakened, pained body, that he has joined his family and now resides in the presence of our Heavenly father.

I am thankful to my mother who has shown charity, the pure love of Christ to my father. There is a great legacy of parents who show their love to one another. Her example will forever be in my heart.

The last day of our family vacation with my children and grandchildren, was also to be the day I flew to Las Vegas to spend the last days with my precious father. On that morning with a heavy heart, I looked out the window to see a spectacular double rainbow over the ocean. I quickly called my children to gather on the outside deck. We all marveled together.  I then went out on the sand to take a photo and while I was there, I remembered the meaning of the rainbow.  It was God’s promise that the earth would never again flood, that man would live. This rainbow was clearly a promise of God’s eternal love and promises to my family. I believe in the covenants and promises made in the House of the lord and the ties that bind us together.  And I am so grateful to know—my father lives, and I will see my him again.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dad didn't want a funeral. He loathed funerals and on many occasions made his wishes clear: a simple pine box and into the ground. Wanting to honor his wishes, my mother, my sisters and I, initially planned a graveside service. Each of us would give a short dedication to our father, to her husband--and yes, there were two songs that needed to be sung by Mom's friend with a beautiful voice.

The morning after his death, I clearly heard my father's voice, "You can't make all those people stand out in the heat." Dad was a mensch, a man of hospitality who cared about protocol, class and people's comfort. Leaving people in the heat would be worse than the dreaded funeral; but I still had to convince Mom. I rolled all the circumstances around in my head: the 102 degree heat, the possibility of a 25 minute service, the hassle of a bigger tent, bringing extra folding chairs. I planned a persuasive argument. When I got back to the house, Mom was already on the phone arranging for extra chairs.

"Mom," I tried to interrupt, "we may not need those chairs."

When I presented the plan, she too heard the wisdom in my father's voice. We could still keep it as a graveside service; we would just move it indoors to the mortuary chapel. But us girls and Mom were still committed to keeping it short, especially our individual dedications to our father. Short was important to Dad.

When our oldest daughter was married, we gathered post-wedding vows for a dinner with family and friends. I started the evening with a tribute to our daughter and new husband. I had said what I wanted to say, but paused and was tempted to add one more thing--until I heard my father at a side table, clearing his throat loudly with a pointed message Your talk is over. And because my father had spoken, my talk was over. I passed the mic to my husband.

As I prepared a dedication, I heard my father clear his throat.

The night before, I read my talk to my husband: four minutes and eight seconds.

In the meantime, Mom heard from friends and relatives around the world. Duane was flying in from Virginia, the K's were leaving their vacation in Laguna Beach. Mom's sister was driving from Albuquerque. The miles were many and out of respect, no one would be standing in the summer Vegas heat.

Mom's goal for the memorial service: maximum time one hour.

The music was lovely. My sisters wanted me to go first-precedent set--4 1/2 minutes. Next sister: 5 minutes. Last sister: no more than 5. Mom? 10 minutes. Almost 25 minutes left. Mom asked each of the five granddaughters to share thoughts--more beautiful than we could have expected. The last song. Directions and guidance from the mortuary director. I looked down at the time. Start time was 9:30 and it was now 10:23. We'd done it. Less than an hour. We had fulfilled Dad's wishes. We'd honored him without technically having a funeral. We'd all been short. No public viewing. And then the director asked for the pall bearers to come forth.

Oops. No pall bearers, but even that worked out perfect--the volunteers came forth: my husband, my sister's significant other, two grandson-in-laws, two nephews and something else that couldn't have been planned-Mom asked Dad's great grandson, age ten and sixty pounds, to help carry the casket.

My father, my friend, confidant, protector-- Reid H Zobrist February 12, 1931--August 12, 2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Please, Stay Around and Keep Us Humble

My 21 year old baby daughter posts this on instagram with this caption: #22 of being the favorite child--I just wanted to take a nap, but they followed me into my room and made themselves comfortable. Side note: Mom, I found your second pair of glasses.
Eventually, I would have noticed the extra glasses and maybe I would have chuckled, but maybe I wouldn't have given it a second thought, cause these are the kinds of things one does when transitioning into older middle age.  But glory hallelujah! We have a younger, smarter, prime of life child living in our home to point out the foibles and feebles of her aging parents. 

We actually have two adult children living in our home who are there to tease and remind us of our imminent senility. It is a favorite pastime of one of these adult children to move my husband's water glass or plate of watermelon, when he's in the pantry or with his nose in the fridge. At first, he actually questioned his own mental faculties.

The same baby daughter enjoys taking videos of her father while he eats (granted he is an intense eater). She put the eating-takes into a short docu-drama that's gotten more laughs than an Adam Sandler movie.

In a few short months, we should be empty nesters. Finally. Too soon. Who will keep us young? Or is it conscious or self-conscious of not being young?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Vivid Dream

I was awakened by the gentle nudge of my daughter. It took a moment to realize my ride over the ocean had abruptly ended.

I exclaimed with joy when describing the magical dream to my daughter: "I was holding on to the end of a flying carpet with my parents and a sister sitting in front of me. The ocean and coastline were alive with people engaged in playful activity. We flew past an airplane structure with a man in old-fashioned flying goggles and scarf. A gust of wind took my cowboy hat made of stiff white lace. My sister chided me for not holding onto my hat. I watched the hat swirl with the wind until it landed perfectly on the head of a child walking in the surf." This is where the dream was interrupted.

"Everything was so vivid and real," I continued my explanation, "It was more real than the Flight of the Condor at California Adventure/Disneyland."

"Perhaps," my daughter suggested, "you had a glimpse of heaven."

Friday, August 15, 2014

Lucky You

The flight attendant reads off the gate number connections: Dallas, gate 41; Albuquerque, gate 47, Dallas, gate 31; and then he pauses. "We have only one person catching a connection to Las Vegas."

I slump lower in my seat.

"Could the person flying to Vegas please raise his hand."

Wanting to deflect attention, I raise my hand before he goes on a row by row search.

"Oh there are you are. Aren't you lucky."

Why yes, I thought, I am lucky. 

Up to that point, I'd been feeling a little sorry for myself. Ok, I'd been feeling a BIG sorry for myself. But given the circumstances, it was excusable.

How lucky I was--I couldn't have possibly realized at the time. It only took one phrase from a flight attendant who wanted to go to Vegas. I was going to Las Vegas to spend precious little time with my father. How lucky I was to have three days.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

In the Village

I walked into the library, the double-swooshing automatic doors letting me in. Standing right in front of me was a small girl around four and a little toddler by her side. With all that wide open space, the toddler escaped! No one but me and the little girl seemed to be aware. I waited as long as I could and then took off after the little guy. When I swooped him up in my arms, I instantly worried about picking up someone else's child, but I know who I am, and he'd already made it half way into the street. Turning to carry him back, I expected to see his mother, but it was just the little girl, frozen with fear, a tear running down her cheek.

Bending to her eye level I learned her mother was in the car. Stutter. She was trying to check out a bag of library books but she didn't have the card. Sniffle.  Hmmmm. I dried the last of her tears promising not to leave her until we checked out her books and found her mom.  Trying to buy some time, we got in line to check out the books. Then she piped up, "There's my older brother." I called him over and explained what had happened.  No blame, no trying to make him feel irresponsible, but I did ask him if he would take good care of his siblings. The boy who seemed to be about 14 years old, didn't say anything yet, and I imagined he was resentful. But as I turned to leave, he thanked me for chasing down the little guy.

I have never felt more strongly that I was in the right place at the right time. I'm sure the little boy would have been fine, but I was there for that little girl. Her fright took me back to the day when I was the big sister standing behind the car rolling down the driveway, trying to push it back. My mother had run into the house for just a moment, leaving my younger sister standing in the driver's seat. She had shifted the car into neutral. I couldn't have been much older than the big sister in the library.

After finding the brother, I felt like I'd tidied up the little mess. But I hadn't asked the most important questions: What about the mom? Why was she in the car? Did she need help too?

My error was this: I let the focus shift to me. I allowed myself to feel good for how I'd helped when I really needed to continue thinking of how else I could help.

And that is the complexity of making the world a better place. It feels so wonderful when we actually help that it's easy to forget that more help may be needed. We are momentarily fulfilled and erroneously assume that everyone else is too.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Rainbow Promise

I awoke this morning to an email from Mom telling me there wasn’t much time and I needed to come to Las Vegas. It was going to be ok, because we were flying home today and I could wake up early the next morning and drive.  But it came to mind that I should try to fly Atlanta to Las Vegas instead of Atlanta to SLC.  I prayed and felt a strong confirmation to follow through.

We arrived at the airport and learned that the day before, tornadoes in Atlanta had put all flights a day behind and all hotels were completely booked. The soonest we could get a flight to SLC was the next day at 6:00 pm.  

Imagine the chaos and fiasco leading up to that point, hundreds of people’s lives disrupted and trying to book different flights. The line grew longer and I felt such compassion for the lady carrying a small child, who was crying at the ticket counter.  How ironic~~ I would be the next lady crying.

At one point, the Delta lady found a flight that would take me to LV. But it required an iffy standby status in Atlanta.  Without the surety of getting to Las Vegas and the impossibility of a hotel should I be stuck in Atlanta, I hesitated and in that short time, the two seats to Vegas were gone. I felt a voice: Have faith

The best Delta could do was the next day flight, but it wasn’t good enough. 

I walked over to Southwest and bought a ticket that would get me to LV at 9:00 p.m. that night. I now had two tickets-two options. Yet, I didn’t want to separate from my family, especially as vulnerable as I was feeling.

 A whole shuttle of people were waiting on my decision whether I was going to stay with family or go on my own. Tony was supportive either way, but he wanted me to stay with him.  He felt I had time, but I couldn’t deny I’d had a prayerful confirmation.

There were tears and disappointment; I hugged everyone good-bye and began my five hour wait for the flight to Houston.

For seven days, I'd been surrounded by family love and I wanted nothing more than to continue in that love.

 And then I mustered the courage to call Mom.

She was relieved I was on my way. That I could bring comfort to her, brought tears to my eyes. The bare truth about Dad brought a whole new kind of aching.
I previously hadn’t felt real pain at the thought of losing Dad because it was surreal. A theory. An impossibility. But now I felt the pain intensely and since I’d had to part with everyone else, I felt the pain of what it might be like to lose my husband or a child.  In the past, I have lost grandparents, aunts and uncles, even cousins, but they were old or ill, and it seemed natural for them to pass. I have lost dear friends and seen dear friends lose family, but there is a tangible distance when it isn’t your own husband, parent, sister or child.


Earlier that morning, I’d looked out the window and had seen a magnificent rainbow. I'd called for everyone to join me on the outside deck.

A few minutes later, I went down to the sand by myself to bask in the rainbow's beauty. I remembered the reason for the rainbow. It was God’s promise that the earth would never again flood, that man would live, could live, in an eternal state with Heavenly Father.  This day, the rainbow was a personal reminder of God's promises. I am a believer in the covenants made in the house of the Lord and so, I felt the surety that my father's imminent death would only be a temporary loss.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

This Could Never Be Replicated

The day after we'd reached the midweek vacation slump, when everyone had overdosed on too much sun, sea, and play, it appears this day will be much the same. Mid-day is so hot and humid that even I retreat for refuge on the shaded porch. 

As the minutes pass, dark clouds gather and the enchanting, bewildering sound of thunder rumbles behind us. Pretty soon, all my daughters have gathered in the porch chairs around me. 

 Paloma says "Oh look a dolphin," and then she sees three, and when I look up, I can see many scattered over a corner of the ocean.

 "A pod of dolphins!" I yelp like a war cry and launch from my chair.  The kayak s ready for a moment such as this. The dolphins move swiftly from the east. Timing is critical. Tony looks bewildered by my sprint towards him, but like a minuteman he's up and hopping in the kayak with me. Annika, always looking for adventure, appears out of nowhere, fully dressed, asking if she can come along.  I  look behind me and see Trevor, like a warrior, Holly just behind, paddling on the boards. 

By this time the sky has perfectly covered with clouds and heat gives way to a welcome breeze and respite from the pounding sun. We paddle hard and just as we reach the shore to sea distance, the dolphins arrive. We slow and hold back, basking in the spirit that only a playful, baby-filled pod of dolphins can bring. They leap, roll and circle. If one passes ten feet away, two more cross in the other direction. Trevor thought to bring goggles and he lays on the board and dips his head to watch several pass directly underneath. 

Annika whispers, "I've never been so close to a dolphin." Or "Dolphins are my favorite animals." 

We hardly dare to look away from the ocean surface, afraid we'll miss a dolphin leap or the mother with baby close to her side, but we do, to share a knowing glance without words. Our eyes and smiles say~~ This is magic and we all know it.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Literally Drifting Apart

When Tony and I paddleboard in the morning calm, we paddle just far enough to where the stillness is so complete,  so tranquil and other worldly, that we stop to lay down on the boards-- to absorb that precious other place where I feel each ocean ripple, hear every soft call from a gull, feel the gentle lap of sea water at my feet.

 On our last vacation day, we paddle farther and lay in the stillness longer. Without words, we savor the peace-- for who knows when and if it will come again.

The ocean's arms lull me into the beginning descent of a sound sleep. So peaceful--I want to keep going deeper, but I sense that Tony isn't near. I sit up. He is a small oblong dot on the horizon.

We are so far apart, yet we started together side by side with the purpose of floating blissfully together.

It stuns me to think how unintentionally and quickly we have drifted apart.

Drifted apart is a cliche I've heard my whole life, but this time, it has a literal, real and present meaning  mostly because I hardly noticed until our distance apart was measurable.

And I never want to drift apart from him again--both in the literal and metaphorical sense.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


On my second day of paddle boarding, I seem to have gotten my sea legs. When the board dips with a wave, I bend and lean like a sapling. I've mastered the beginning skill on an ultra light paddle board. It's now time for a serious and longer paddle.

I'm not keen on the surf leash-the velcro band that wraps around my ankle and insures if I fall, the board will only be a strap length a way.  But this water is so calm, I forego the bothersome tether.

About a quarter of a mile later and a hundred yards behind Tony, I look behind me to see the tether acting like an anchor, dragging and certainly keeping me from moving as fast as I would like to go.

The night before, I was thinking about my father's tether to the earth. He wants to leave, has wanted to leave for some time, but yet he stays. Is it enough to want to leave? What power, if any, do we possess in determining the days, the hours, even minutes before our earth tether severs?

I keep in mind stories of people who might have had small choices in determining the time of death. It seems that when death is imminent, a person may hang on until loved ones leave the hospital, the house or the room. He or she may be inclined to stay tethered when surrounded by love. It wasn't until my cousins left for a twenty minute bite to eat that their mother passed away. My neighbor and a different set of cousins had the same experience.

The death story of a friend's husband with brain cancer furthers the idea. When her husband finally succumbed to death, she looked up at the clock: 10:10 p.m. It was also the tenth of October. For years, the man had repeatedly told his wife and daughters that they were his "10's--a phrase taken from an old movie title. She clearly thought he'd left an endearing message by the time and date of his passing.

My mother has asked my sisters and me to let go of our father. She believes we might be the tether holding him back. "You've never known a life without him and you can't imagine a life without him." And she is right--I can't. How do I let go of a solid gold anchor that's always steadied my life?

So when I saw the paddle board tether dragging in the water this morning, I saw clearly that if I am my father's tether, I am holding him back, slowing him down, keeping him from going as fast as he can. Keeping him from letting go.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Bless This Mother

When I took this photo of Holly, I attached it to a text to her sisters: It's a good thing Holly doesn't drink. I thought it was funny, but when Holly good naturedly replied: The effect of waking 3x a night with a baby, 3 nights in a row, I had to rethink funny.

Bless this mother.

Bless this mother who is In full, joyous, tiring, mother mode.

Now that I'm post mother mode, I forget the stress and sacrifice required to take a family on vacation: the packing, the purchases, does everyone have enough underwear? A swimsuit that fits? Water socks, sunblock and snacks.

The constant mother mode has passed, but it takes a long time to shake off the intense focus required 'til everyone is safely out of the house and college educated. And every once in a while I slip right back into that high gear.

One morning, I hesitated before heading to the beach because I momentarily forgot I could just walk to the water without a care in the world besides the right book and a pair of sunglasses.   I mentioned to another daughter that I'd had a relapse of pre-beach stress with children.

She laughed with incredulity "That was ten years ago."

 Yes it was - point proven.

Mother mode is such a deep well into which we dive and seem to stay in forever, that when we finally do emerge, we still think we're in the well.

While in the thick of mother mode, I always tried to be home before, if only seconds before, the children arrived home from school. I still feel the urgency even though I have no children getting home from school--at least none that can't fend for themselves.

So dear little mothers of my womb, thank you for the packing, the car loaded with the baby's pak &play and sand toys, the shopping strategy, the super SPF and rash guards, the plane layovers, the 14 hour drive--everything you have done to share this time and your babies with us, and I promise to never make jokes again when you take your well deserved pass-out on the beach.

Friday, August 8, 2014

In the Moment (Without A Camera)

I've noticed our family pendulum swings in a different direction than before.

It used to be that during a family event or vacation, a few of us would always be posed with cameras. The photos were often priceless, but they might have come with a price.

I started noticing people who seemed to not live a moment, but who seem to live, to photograph the moment. I started not wanting to interrupt the moment by taking a photo. I wanted to see every moment live and not through the pause it takes to get the camera and watch through a lens.

 After the first three days of vacation, I notice that no one has taken a photo. The moments have been rich, precious and one of a kind, but no one wants to sacrifice one second of the event, or the feeling, to make a digital freeze.

Maybe we are getting older and lazier, but I think it is the difference of taking a photo with a camera or taking the photo with one's heart--- oft times the latter is sacrificed with the urgency of the former.

In my mind and heart always, will be Max paddle boarding with ease on the gulf, the paddle in his hands like a warrior's spear; Annika fishing for jelly fish with a net and always at the side of her aunts; Ezra's body as a wave lifts him, his feet paddling under the clear water, and Seb studying my face as I speak to him like he is the most important human in the world. Tony steadying, practicing on the paddle board until he finally gets it;  Paloma curled up on the couch asleep like when she was three; Jillian's facial expression when she tells  us the latest text from her latest while he visits Japan; Trevor tossing his children in the waves; everyone jumping into the kayak, onto the boards to catch the passing pod of dophins; Holly's persistence with her children when she has a cause; Si carrying the last food of the feast he has prepared; Tony and Annika reading on a beach chair as the sun begins to set; Mandi confidant in her one-of-a-kind swimsuit.  Each one--a heart photo.

Today I broke down and took my camera to the water--but only to document the family at play and rest. I then put the camera away so I could really enjoy the moments.

However, there is a sacrifice to relegating a memory only to the heart, because often the tender remembrances are triggered from a photo. Without relying on the photos, I am challenged to pause, drink more deeply, feel more deeply and ultimately, love more deeply.

Ah....but then there are the moments when one is so grateful for a camera at the right place and right time.

I just read that a beach in southern France has banned the taking of "beach selfies." Ah the French....

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Today's Writing Place

When I discovered the umbrella-roofed table in the path of an ocean breeze, I knew it would be a great place to write, and so I got excited about making more edits to Mimi Lost and Found.

Even though it may appear I've only posted a beautiful photo, this photo/reflection is more about conveying my belief that everyone needs to pause and recharge by finding a place and time to do so. Deep satisfaction comes when we acknowledge Hey, I'm important enough to give myself a time out.

At different times and seasons, the moment for myself may have only been alone in the car to pick up a child, or during an early morning run when I could gather thoughts before the day's chaos scattered them afar.

The self-indulgence may not always be time or place. I had a friend who splurged on herself while her husband finished medical school: the splurge was a ten cent candy bar--but it spoke the world of her own importance.

On a visit to Paris almost ten years ago, I bought a small bar of rose soap that was exorbitantly expensive, at least for me at the time.  The ten dollar price tag kept that piece of soap in my cupboard for at least five years. One day, I thought about giving the soap as a parting gift for a French acquaintance--surely she would appreciate it, but abruptly, I realized no one could appreciate that soap more than me. Yes, I took it out and indulged in my Paris rose soap.

Take a challenge: find the place, time and way to indulge for refuge and sanctuary.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

On a short weekend retreat with my girlfriends, a meditation specialist joined us for an afternoon.  While taking us through an exercise, she challenged us to create our own place of refuge.

My special place came together quickly, easily and emerged so real, that I had a sense of its existence.  I walked along a beach and to my left was a turquoise blue lagoon. Children played in the lagoon and I sensed they were my yet-to-be grandchildren with their parents: my children. Beyond the blue lagoon were jungle covered mountains.To my right was a glass house sitting amidst a tropical garden.  As I walked this peaceful sand, I noticed it was peppered with precious gems--stones the colors of emerald, blue, yellow, pink and red. As the scene came so vividly and beautifully together, I sensed I wasn't alone. My grandmother was beside me and we walked towards the grandfather who died before my birth.

Over the next ten years, the imagined island literally became a go-to place of refuge: when I sat in the dentist chair, when I felt fear, panic or angst.

On the second of August, we gathered as a family to one of the most beautiful places in America: the Florida panhandle. The water is warm, clear and the sand is like powdered sugar. The August skies are clouded with puffs of cotton candy. The colors of sky and sea blend together and seem to go forever.
 Soon after we arrived, almost everyone was in the water together. Children's laughter, peace and beauty surrounded. From my place in the sea, the beach house door opened and there stood our second daughter with her child, the last ones to arrive. Time seemed to stop when I realized, "Everyone is here." It felt complete, heavenly and like I was amidst the place of refuge I had created years before.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Family Group Text

Number two daughter scouted out the vacation home for this summer's trip. The week before we travel a thousand miles she sends out a group text: Oh my goodness! I just checked and the  beach house only has 1.5 bathrooms!!! Totally missed that!.

My phone starts buzzing, binging, chiming and chirping with panic and horror. Until Dad, who often ignores the family group text, pipes in with sanity that saves the day: It says there are four bathrooms.

Some people love them, some people hate them. Group texts, that is.

I'm in the former group. My family can all be thousands of miles a part and still share our thoughts and photos which is rather magnificent. I can take a photo and instantaneously send it to all my children, my husband and Aunt Loraine. I can share the cute baby smile or the embarrassing moment. One daughter takes an awkward photo of Dad with a caption--we can all laugh.

I can compile a grocery list from the group text.

As our daughter makes a 14 hour drive, she updates us with photos and notes of how her two year old fares. We all offer encouragement.

Most of the family group texts end with someone expressing love.

The latter group: While Tony bikes, he listens to podcasts and each time one of his loved ones adds to the conversation of a group family text, his podcast goes silent. When there's a string of 15 messages, replies and banter, it makes for a hard-to-comprehend podcast. Especially when it's in French.

Mandi's in a meeting one day and forgets to silence her phone. The first beep is tolerable, the second, the third, the fourth,......

Some people love them, some people hate them, but please remember to include me.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Accidents Within An Outline

The art of creation, whether it is designing a bridge, figuring out a new recipe, raising children or writing a book, the creator tries to learn from others~from their work and their example.

Because I am interested in writing, I like to read how others write.

I love this approach found in a piece of young adult fiction:

"I used to think that, in order to write a song, I'd have to hear it in my head, and then I'd sit down with a pen and write it out in notation. That's the way you see Mozart and Beethoven doing it in movies about them. But your way, of just playing until you find something by accident, makes a lot more sense. It's like every song is a series of accidents." Guitar Notes by Mary Amato pg. 54

In a way, it's what we all do when writing-try out a word a phrase, until it fits or enlarges and clarifies the meaning of what we are writing.

Writer Alan Gratz wrote a short piece for Highlights about outlining a novel before writing it which may seem to contrast the above "accident" theory, but in a way, music already has an outline too:

When you’re writing, you want to be putting together beautiful words, sentences, and paragraphs. You want to be focused on metaphors and allusions and beats and plot points.
So for the very first time, I created an outline. I broke the story down by chapter, writing a paragraph-long summary of each chapter on a different page in a Word document.

The outline would seem to set up the kind of experimentation for the "accidents" that can make writing and music so unique and refreshing. I love the idea of the two working together.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Mother Daughter Connection

It's a horrible thing when a child turns 21 and decide to make an adventurous expedition without having to ask her parents for permission. The methodical gives way to the spontaneous and that is how Paloma got to hike a section of the Great Pacific Trail. It sounded fun to me too, but in hindsight, hiking 82 miles in a matter of days without some serious preparation----maybe wasn't the best of ideas. Hindsight.

We demanded a few requirements: 1.We had to know who she was hiking with. We'd met two of the young men and knew one of them quite well. 2. She had to install a tracking device on her phone so we would know where she was. And folks, that's about it. Neither of her parents had ever done an extended hike of the same magnitude, so we didn't have any other great advice. Be smart, be careful and say your prayers was about it.

She left at 3:00 a.m on a Saturday morning for a 12 hour drive to Oregon and was supposed to return late Thursday night. Two days of travel and four days of hard core hiking.

Wednesday morning I woke up knowing she was in some kind of distress.

Yet there was no way to reach her; her location was beyond cell phone coverage. The only thing I could do was wait and pray. 

I thought of all the scenarios: how I would have to fly up and get her, fly up and search for her--my stressed mother imagination ran wild. I kept my phone with me all day waiting for the call. I left her a message to please call me as soon as she was off the trail because I woke up knowing she was in distress. I kept thinking it was her feet and I imagined a broken foot, a twisted ankle, something that would make the journey tough.

I told my husband and was tempted to call her sisters asking for their prayers, but each sister had a commitment or a celebration that day, and I didn't want to worry any of them on a mother's hunch.

Finally, she called. She was fine and happy, but then she confided in me that her feet had blistered so bad that she had spent the last day walking slowly, often in tears, and in prayer. At one point, she'd called out "Mom," wishing she was at home with me. She'd prayed for a car to come along and finally the right one did. 

So today we've been soaking her feet, disinfecting her feet, keeping her feet elevated and stopping every once in a while to express our awe at the connection we had a thousand miles away.

Recovering: elevated feet on an ice pack

Saturday, August 2, 2014

What Are Your Neighbors Up To?

I am always amazed when a friend peels back a layer and reveals a secret life.

The quest for ageless beauty is only a block away.

For quite awhile, my friend Kristi and her husband have been planning, plotting--a new product, a new company, and I never knew. Right under my nose, they were meeting with chemists, doctors and other experts to bring to pass a product that will keep the neighborhood women looking young. We may someday be referred to as The Heatheridge Wives.

People are full of surprises and for the most part, the surprises are fun~~which segues us into what I really want to write about: people are not always what they seem.

This idea always brings me back to a San Diego taxi ride. Tony and I waited for the doorman to call a taxi. A short delay later, the taxi pulled up, the driver jumped out and the doorman berated him for his tardy.  It was beyond necessary and we felt sorry for the driver. The cab driver unloaded his exasperation and said, "The doorman doesn't understand who I am and from where I come." He had left his war torn Afganistan, his medical practice and was doing what he could to support himself in a new country.

Whenever anyone mistreats another person, it is because he or she doesn't understand who that person is and from where he came. This is because everyone is a child of God and came from a place of divinity.

When people forget this concept (and I say forget because at everyone's core is this knowledge), the group, the neighborhood, the family, the neighbors~~the whole world suffers. This happens when we objectify people--think of them as classes or groups or old people. If we objectify old people, we see only their limitations and forget they once had careers, sang, danced, taught, served, traveled the world, fought in a war.

As Kristi proved, there is always so much more to people than what we may see at first glance.

People are as joyful as we allow them to be or if we are willing to ask a few questions, take a little time, we can be pleasantly surprised by the discovery of who someone really is.

Kristi's secret project. I think my photo looks sort of professional (sitting on top of a magazine in front of my briefcase).'s more than a company to keep the neighbors looking young!

After writing these thoughts, I pull into my garage, look to my left and see my neighbor's open garage doors. Wow, there's a really old car.  It's William's project he worked on his whole senior year and it is now for sale: a 1950 Austin A40. What skills!

And finally, my sister~~over the past few years has been working on a game. She's been working long enough, been patient enough, that technology has changed since its first inception. The game, played and perfected over the years, is now being translated into a phone app. When all goes well, I will surely write about it again. Could I have predicted this from my older sister whom I know well? Never and that is part of the delight.