July 9, 2010

Perspective is such a funny thing! 

Yesterday I had a bit of a difficult day. I wasn’t feeling great and I attempted to grout my new kitchen tiles. My mother-in-law helped me gather up all the supplies at the local hardware store. I have no one to blame but myself – I ended up with the wrong grout color. And of course, I didn’t realize it until AFTER I had mixed it. Oh, and a 25 lb. bag was the smallest unit they had. BAAAA I had also been thinking a lot about “that friend” and all her issues. (No contact for days which is really unusual!) I guess you could say I was having a bit of a pity party. Everyone has those days, right? 

Well, after dinner, hubby & I went for a little cruise in my old Bug that we’ve been working on. We had a loop going where we’d drive by a friend’s house, but he was never home. Until tonight. Now this guy is a walking soap opera. And the perfect one to put anyone’s problems back in proper perspective. His second (?) wife used to be a nice, relatively normal girl. They got pregnant and there were complications. She decided to carry him and he ended up being still-born. I really don’t know the details, but that is a terrible tragedy. She suffered extreme depression (who wouldn’t?) and started taking all sorts of pills (prescribed). They had another baby, and he’s doing great (he’s around seven now). She, however, is a mess. 

NOT the couple in question


By mess, I mean she belongs on Maury. Or Jerry. Or Steve Wilcox. Or any of those shows. Maybe even Dr. Phil. She is so messed up on drugs, she doesn’t know which end is up. The parents have alway fought – and I mean knock-down, drag-out fights. The cops know them on a first name basis. Fast-forward: they are divorced, he got screwed in the deal, she’s still messed up on meds, and they have mutual restraining orders. (She’s a trust fund baby, and he’s self-made, mostly from real estate. They live in the most affluent cities in our half of the state too.) 

It seems she had a bit of an accident a few weeks ago, involving compound fractures. Of course this means more meds. And we’re told she’s using alcohol to wash them down. She, in her drug induced fog, just knows they are not divorced so she’s parked herself in his house (much to his current girlfriend’s dismay). Of course, it’s his fault because he’s let her stay for weeks. I’m sure he feels sorry for the mother of his only son, but c’mon pal! 

We found all of this out last night when we stopped by. She was threatening to throw him out. He was convinced the cops would be there any minute. We’re worried about the kid! (Kid does great when she’s not in the picture. He’s an amazing dad.) They are both bound for jail since they’re in violation of the respective restraining orders. What a mess.  Nothing like walking in on something like that (well, we stayed in the driveway, but still) to bring my piddly gripes into proper perspective! 

And yes, what’s up with the crazies in my life? 


Note: If I thought for one minute that the child was in any immediate danger,  the police would have been summoned immediately. There were several responsible adults at our friend’s home, and the boy knows them well. Sad as it is, this is a version of “normal” for this family.


Simplification: Check-In #2

June 22, 2010

It’s been a long while since my last check-in. What’s been going on?

  • Haven’t touched my sewing machine.  FAIL! I have, however moved it from the middle of the kitchen table to my nice guest room. (No, I do not expect guests to sew for me.)
  • I have been cooking more! Well, considering my diet, I kinda have to or I would starve! I have lost 11 pounds in less than two weeks. When I think about that, it’s kind of embarrassing because it just goes to show how terrible all the processed crap & fast food really are for you!
  • Less daytime TV – Check! More movement: FAIL.
  • Little chores: PROGRESS… Thanks to Flylady, I’m getting some basic stuff done (making the bed, keeping the kitchen sink shiny, etc.)
  • Remembering my reuseable grocery bags: I’m ROCKIN’ this one!! At Trader Joe’s, they give you a raffle ticket for a gift card drawing, and at Whole Foods, they give you a nickel off per bag. Little rewards are nice!
  • Clearing clutter: a little progress.
  • Gardening: my front planter box remains weed free and my container veggies remain alive. Yahoo!
  • Purchasing less: unless it pertains to something edible, or something to improve our house, I’m killing it!
  • Doing stuff that’s FUN: Check! I’ve seen one of my very favorite performers (twice) and have been taking walks with my borrowed doggies. Also, it’s been fun working with hubby on the house – kind of a bonding experience. We’re actually becoming quite a team when he’s more patient with whatever’s not going right, and as long as I don’t take his comments personally (they’re always directed at whatever isn’t working or himself anyway).

What are you doing/have you done to simplify your life? Are you struggling with any of the things I am? How are you decluttering your life?

Mom’s Day ’10

May 12, 2010

Lilly, the newest animal (and Tripper on the left)

What a wonderfully busy trip! I decided to forge North to visit family for the Mom’s day weekend. Afterall, I haven’t found a job yet, so why not?

Day one – Friday: Sunburned my arm in LA traffic. Mind-numbing drive up the I-5 Corridor. Turns out the central valley has turned against Boxer & Pelosi. After 7 hours of driving and a vigilant eye for cops, I arrive safe & sound – with no marks against my driving record. Off to the local eatery for a late dinner. I don’t make it in the door more than 4 feet and I’m recognized. He looks quite familiar, but I still have no idea who he is. I know I know him, but just no idea from where. I WILL figure it out.

Day two – Saturday: Supposed to meet an old friend for coffee. She unfortunately slept late (noon) so we decide on Monday after work, since I have a party/wake to attend.  

Day three – Sunday/Mother’s Day: Hang out with mom and then head over to see her parents. My grandmother, suffering from Alzheimer’s is fairly clear today, which is a nice treat. My grandfather STILL hasn’t accepted he needs hearing aids (after how many years??). He’s also in a lot of pain after tearing one of his toenails. He’s a diabetic, so this is especially dangerous for him. Also, he has had some unexplained swelling in one knee and ankle, so it was a fight to keep convincing him to elevate it. During the visit, I reset the digital photo frame I had got them for Christmas. This time I showed my mom what she could do to reset it. On the way home, we stopped and got me some lemon cucumber plant starts. I miss them!


Day four – Monday: my step-dad is off with a friend for a trip to Denver, so it’s just me and mom. We head to our favorite restaurant for lunch (artichoke soup and a grilled cheese with shrimp sandwich). We stop at a local goat farm and pick up some fresh goat cheese. Had it not been raining, it would have been great fun to wander with my camera. Flip flops + goat farm do not make a great combo. Next stop was my step-dad’s parents house. They are such fun!! It’s a bit saddening to compare them to my grandparents. They are both still mobile and going out and having a great time. My grandparents haven’t been mobile in some years, and never really went anywhere. At least not together. Sigh. Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed the visit. Stopped on the way home to pick up some super-amazing sourdough bread from a local bakery. This stuff is AMAZING. Another new discovery: Almond Butter. YUM!!

Day five – Tuesday: Attempted to leave early for the drive home. Ended up leaving at 11:30. I discovered I can make it home from Santa Cruz on a tank of gas. I took Highway 1 as far as San Luis Obispo and restrained myself from stopping more than once for photos. I couldn’t get over how beautiful the scenery was.  Car after car had Texas plates. I wonder if that’s all they rented from the Monterey area? Or maybe there was some strange field trip I wasn’t aware of… I think they were all missing their mirrors since it took them FOREVER to let me by. I’m all for enjoying the scenery, but you really should do it from the turnouts instead of at 5 mph. After 9 hours, I made it home! There was only one accident causing a 10 minute delay. Otherwise, no traffic really (besides the Texans). I’ll leave you with my favorite picture…

Near Big Sur

The Birthday Wake

May 12, 2010

Yep, that’s right. Birthday wake. On what would have been our friend’s 71st birthday, we celebrated his life and how he touched ours.

I learned so much more about him. He was a second generation Californian – his dad was born here in the 1890’s and was involved in the development of the aqueduct. He was the original “eco-shirt” designer with his orignal art or fun phrases like “I Clove Garlic”  and “The Right to Bear Arms” (with a bear holding a gun). I’m told that when an oversea company stole his idea of “I Got Crabs at Fisherman’s Wharf”, our friend stopped production. I also learned that his art had progressed to include welding and metals.

I also learned more about the accident he had several years back. A truck’s mirror hit him in the head, and the driver got out, saw what he did, and ran. He was never found. Our friend could not walk a block without resting. His sense of taste was gone – which for a gourmet cook is devastating.  He was forgetful, and had difficulty producing the art he wanted. He took the time to clean the house and vehicle, as well as organize everything, and transfer all property to his wife’s name before committing suicide.

His wife and a friend gathered up most of his work and displayed it, along with tons of photos and several journals, for the group to enjoy. One of the favorites photos was with a group in Mexico in 1969. Another was a picture of him with his mom – clearly in the 1970’s (as evidenced by the replica Saturday Night Fever outfit). Each guest brought one of his favorite dishes or wines, and someone took the time to compile music from all his favorite CD’s. One friend, a Mexico City diplomat (I believe) attended, as well as friends from Denver and Washington state.

I finally got the opportunity to meet some of his old friends… after all these years, being able to place a face with a name/story was really fun. And it was wonderful to surprise so many old friends, most of whom I hadn’t seen since I got married in ’98 – or longer! It was a very touching tribute, tastefully done. Thankfully, the tears stayed at bay for nearly everyone for the duration of the night. Rest in peace, friend.

photo from

Birthday for the dead

May 5, 2010

I am undecided about which day to begin my trek “home.” In discussing said indecision with my mom, she mention that they had plans Saturday, which could surely include me. It’s rare they “have plans.” Plans require… you guessed it, planning! I definitely inherited the non-planning gene.

Anyway, it turns out the plans are a birthday party. For a dead guy. Okay, that sounds a bit insensitive – and I certainly don’t mean it that way.  Although it was a bit insensitive of said dead guy to commit suicide last winter. He was a really, really cool guy. My step-dad has known him for many years, and he was a part of this guy-gang (not that kind of gang – more like a hippie gang) of all these eclectic, (now) old-timers. There’s a millionaire (no wife), a German, a Brit, this guy who was the artist and chef, and a few others I never knew well. I’m pretty sure at least one was a musician.

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