Friday, February 28, 2014

It’s all about YOU!
To My Son, Justin, With Love!

You deserved it! You got what was coming to you! It’s probably been in the works for a long time because you set it up! You did! Don’t try to squirm out of it! The reason it happened is because of the person you are. You are so non-assuming. How often are you willing to stand back, to watch, to listen, and simply to take in every detail in the world around you without getting in the way? It happens more often than not. That’s why you’re so good at what you do.

Being the center of attention has never been a necessity for you. Yet, ironically, that’s likely the reason why, all of a sudden, you have become a focal point. You possess character. You’re genuine, real. It’s why, when you connect with someone, when someone becomes your friend or confidant, it is forever. It’s your innate sense of loyalty that is so appealing.

So, yes! You deserved it! Employee of the Year for the Novato Police Department is no small accomplishment. Your family is so proud of you. All of us are beaming with joy! I hope at some point, even if you don’t let anyone else know, that you too will wallow a bit in your success. Your expertise, talents, sense of responsibility, and capacity for doing what is right are yours alone. Be proud. It’s time.

I love you, Justin.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Me, Me, My, My, I
                        For My Brother, Jay, With Love

I try to believe that my life (and I do mean MY life) is not always about me. However, to hear my brother tell it, that’s a lie! I’m all about me! Oh my goodness! Maybe he’s right! After all, this is my blog, my creation, my time, my thoughts, my computer, my study, and my house. I am doing “my thing” right now, but I’m doing it for one reason: to appease my brother, and I do mean MY brother. It’s my choice though!

Jay (my brother) is a wonderful man. He is smart, articulate, artistic, talented, and always ready for a good conversation even if it takes three glasses of wine and the stroke of midnight to get through. I just spent five days with Jay and MY sister-in-law (as opposed to his wife) in North Carolina. Although our reunion was for a sad reason, the death of MY father (also my brother’s) who was four days short of being 103, it gave us the opportunity to be together, to cry, to hug, to laugh, and to talk and communicate. (There’s a difference.)

In the midst of one conversation, my brother suddenly blurted, “Why do you always say MY dad?”
“Oh,” I corrected, “OUR dad. I guess he belongs to both of us.” I smiled, a sweet, “you got me” smirk, and figured I was off the hook. Not!
“It doesn’t even have to be ‘our’,” he pressed. “What about just ‘Dad’?”

Oh! I had never truly considered that. When I speak to my friends in California about my daddy, I use the possessive pronoun ‘my’. They need to know I’m referring not to any, old dad, but to the remarkable, grumpy, and giving, old guy that I have claimed as my own for a good, long while. Otherwise, wouldn’t they be confused? They have Dads too. In the home of my brother, though, (also, his home) I will credit him for being correct. Perhaps it is much more considerate, and accurate, to dump a possessive pronoun altogether. Wait, though. What happens when his kids arrive and call out, “Dad! Dad?” Are they talking about my dad, or their dad? It has to be their dad; my dad is their granddad, their dad’s dad, and also MY dad. There’s definitely a difference, so maybe the odd or selfish attempt for clarity isn’t so bad after all. AND, my brother’s point is very well taken.

Rest in peace, Dad. Your family, every one of us, possesses that sentiment.

Jay and Judi, brother and sister, February 24, 2014, Wilmington, NC

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

On Life and Death

Life goes on, and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it simply ends, a dead stop. When it’s over, it’s over. Or is it? People have been pondering that question forever. Facing the end is not always easy. Some battle. Some resist. Some give in. Some have no choice. They go when it’s time. And who decides that? That’s another question up for discussion.

I find myself compelled to write about this rather dark subject today because my dad who was slated to turn 103 on Saturday, February 22, 2014 died over night. Hospice was there. My brother was beside him. My sister-in-law was too, supporting as always with love as the anchor. I’m physically 3000 miles away from them, but am close at heart and in time, a short time, I will be alongside them to say goodbye to a man who definitely had a good ride. He wasn’t always easy, but he was always loved.

Rest in peace, Daddy. I hope Alex, Honey, Addie, and you are telling each other funny stories and laughing to “beat the band”!

Jay, Cherette, Alexis, Jaleh, Alex, Scott
Chase, Tyner, Justin, Judi
Cuz Dutch, John DeChesere, Cuz Jean
"The Fam" in 2010

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Sport of Blogging

I know, blogging isn’t a sport, but sometimes it seems to be. On some mornings, when I wake up at 5:30 a.m., I am raring to go! Writing is easy and the words flow so quickly I can’t keep up with them. On other days, it’s the opposite. It’s a slugfest – me against the computer. I’m at the starting block, I have noble intentions, and yet I can’t seem to get going.

Writing, like any sport takes discipline. I write every day whether I’m feeling inspired or not. For me, it’s a necessity. I’m drawn to it and it’s part of my regimen. My day would not be complete without putting pen to paper. I know athletes feel a similar pull. It’s imperative for a runner to run, a tennis player to practice her serve, a soccer player to juggle the ball, and for plenty of players to pump iron in order to stay fit.

I understand that. I used to run myself . . . every day. I wasn’t a superstar by any means, but I enjoyed the challenge of setting goals, recording my runs, and going farther than I had before sometimes. I ran a half marathon when I was in my mid-thirties in two hours and five minutes. I was elated although my calf muscles “told” me I had my limits.

So sports are oddly similar to writing. Composing a fine line or two is incredibly fulfilling or holding my novel and realizing, “I did that!” feels fantastic. Yet, that aside, I still find myself craving quiet moments when I can simply let my mind go, allowing my thoughts to filter out onto paper word by word by word. It clears my head, just as running used to do. With every stride of my run my views, my judgments, and my feelings shifted and sorted. It was very satisfying. So it is with writing, and particularly with writing blogs. I may have huffed and puffed my way through, but completion, however decent or deficient, is a breakthrough.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Look and Listen

On my walk yesterday, for some strange reason, I thought about our capacity for looking, for not simply looking, but seeing. I think there is a difference. In mid-stride, then, I took a second to take in the unique beauty of a single leaf on a bush. The tiny frond, just two inches long and an inch wide with scalloped edges, was nature’s doily. It was mottled in shades of green with blotches of deep brown within and at the edges, as though the early season frosts combined with this winter’s drought had sought to suck the very life out of it. Yet it caught my eye, tenaciously shimmering in the misty air having been bathed just moments before with welcome raindrops. It was an eyeful.

Artists and writers see out of necessity and out of habit. It’s engrained. Yet, at times, all of us, I suppose, we are too busy looking to see. It’s a paradox, really and I’m afraid robs us sometimes. The same goes for listening. How often are we too busy telling our own story to listen to someone else’s? How often do random thoughts wrack our brains almost mindlessly, holding us captive? How often do we hear the music but not the lyrics? How many times do we hear the noise of the crowd but not the voice inside us? Do we ever simply stop to listen to the silence? And when we do, what creeps in? Noises. Myriad sounds are everywhere but we have to be quiet to hear.

Maybe it’s because it’s early morning, and aside from random rumblings of the furnace sending warmth into the house that has cooled with the night, that I am listening now to the quiet. Maybe it is because I’m grateful to have singled out that lovely leaf yesterday, that I look forward to seeing a new day. Light is just beginning to fill the sky and today, hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to see again, and will be quiet enough to listen.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Facebook Phantom

Somewhere in a dark hideaway on Facebook is a person who lurks in the shadows with one intention – to spy on us. Yes, that’s correct! Us. (You and me) It’s all right though; she’s simply curious. She doesn’t have any evil intentions. It isn’t as though she’s snooping for a purpose. No. One would never find her nosing around to “get the goods” on anyone. On the contrary, she’s filled with love, joy, and absolute happiness as she delights in each photo we post, and there are many: our kids, our grandchildren, our BFFs, our dogs, the cat, the spider in the web outside, our Christmas trees, our selfies, the weather, flowers, our choice in beverages, and plate after plate of food, food, food.

She has no choice but to read myriad random sweet or saucy sentiments that so many of us savor, posting and reposting, again and again. Because it’s true – we all wish “only one glass of wine” would hold a bottle, that pit bulls were adored by us all, that love does indeed make the world go round, and that we could find a cure for cancer. We rant about our favorite teams, boastfully or discreetly post our political biases, and sometimes step on each other’s toes. And the phantom sees it all.

Recently I spoke with the Facebook Phantom. We talked about the roles people play there. Some folks post day after day. Some stay away, appearing only on occasion. Some take a hiatus on purpose to prove, I suppose, that addiction has not taken hold. And some just watch. She does, and she enjoys every minute.

 Who is she? I know.

Monday, February 3, 2014


The tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside of us while we live.
Norman Cousins

A Facebook friend posted this quote and it made me think! Oh, good heavens, not that! It did.

I had a conversation with my hairdresser, Deb, the other day. We were talking about the inescapable passage of time, of moving into the next decade, allowing space for new generations, dealing with all the issues, physical and mental, that moving on delivers whether we want them or not. Any mature woman or man knows exactly what I mean. I need not launch into specifics.

I do need to be clear about this, however. I don’t give a damn how old a person is, how old I am; it simply does not make sense to stop living all on your own. Why in God’s Earth would someone do that? I lost a son in May 2013 and rest assured, it was not a choice, not for him, and certainly not for me. He wanted to live and I would give anything to have him here with me now. Brain cancer doesn’t bargain well, though. The point of my blog is not to dwell on that very sad part of life however, but rather to point to the fact that the human spirit (and my son would applaud this) has the capacity, even in the face of illness, even in the face of aging, even in the face of uncertainty, to keep moving forward.

I have retired from teaching, and thus relinquished the opportunity to interact with quite a few incredible individuals on a daily basis, but without much of a second thought I have moved on to something new. Every day I want to create something new – a new blog, a new story, a new poem, a new friend, a new discovery, a new reason to laugh, a new reason to live. I refuse to let what burns inside of me die, not before my time. 

I know a few folks who are struggling to find a reason to be here and how tragic is that? If I had the power I would jump-start them into a new reason, into a new season for keeping on keeping on. If any one of them were to read this, perhaps it would help. Maybe. Yet then, maybe it wouldn’t. It’s a choice, but I’d like to shake some sense into a couple of people I know! “Just sayin’,” and how trite is that trendy statement? It doesn’t matter. It’s just what’s so, at least for me.