Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Watch

Still in the throes of moving my aunt from one room to another.  It'll be a long, busy week spent going over there almost every day and hauling the contents of her closet, treasures from the curio cabinet, and who-knows-what-all from the shelves and cubbies in her various pieces of furniture.  And then there's the furniture move on Saturday. Oi...

Happily, there were some fun things that happened last weekend that were so relaxing and enjoyable, I've had some good times to think about this week.  L and I went on a whale watch out of Newport Harbor.  Now technically, as my cousin Brad pointed out, since we didn't see any whales, it was just a "watch."  But no matter - it was one of the most gorgeous days in recent history.  Blue skies, sun shining, the whole lot.  Everything you all come here for on vacation.

As you head out of Newport Harbor, it's a kind of narrow bay between Newport and Balboa Island.  You see a lot of homes just like this one lining the bay as you head out.

Humble little places.  Are you kidding me???  Actually, they're so fabulous and out of reach that you're not even jealous.  It just amazes me that there are people who really get up everyday and live like this, and you can't help but gawk a little bit.

We headed out past the jetty and turned down the coast towards Laguna.  There's a great hotel in South Laguna called The Montage.  I've been lucky enough to stay there twice.  I think the cheap rooms there are now up to about $750.00.  Both of my stays were for business, and the first time, since I was the meeting planner, they comped L and I a SUITE.  I thought I'd died and gone to heaven for sure.  It was awesome.  Anyway, here it is, perched on the cliffs of South Laguna Beach:

There is no lovelier location for a hotel.  Maybe the Bacarra in Santa Barbara, which is just as pretty, although in a colder climate.  Anyway, L and I gave it a wistful little nod and wave as we sailed by.  It was nice there for sure, but I'd have to have a lot more money than I do now to pay those prices.  But work was paying for it before, so I'm glad we had our couple of chances to live large.

We turned away from the coastline and headed a little more out into the ocean.  We saw 2 dolphin playing in the distance, jumping out of the water close to a paddle boarder.  We saw lots of sea birds and pelicans.  We saw tons of seals.  But no whales.  No dolphin pods.  Mostly just a lot of this:

And somehow, that was okay.  It was peaceful and pretty and satisfying.  L and I went up to the bow of the ship and stood there feeling the boat lift and drop with the ocean swells.  I loved the feeling of that.  So free with the sun on my face and the salty spray.  I understood the passion of people who own sailboats.  We could see Catalina Island in the distance, and I wished we could go all the way there, riding the rise and fall of the huge ocean surrounding us.

Too soon, it was time to turn back into Newport Harbor.  The whales had eluded us that day.  Somewhere, they were in hiding.  Luckily, we hadn't really seen more than the couple of dolphin, so we all got a voucher to come back another day and try it again.  I was a little disappointed we hadn't seen any whales, but on a day as gorgeous as that, it's hard to have any regrets.  Just outside the harbor, there is a bouy, and as usual it was full of seals of all shapes and ages napping in the sun.  Big ones, little ones laying on their mamas, big daddy ones all snoozing away in the afternoon warmth.

And what did we do after we stepped off the boat?  Why, we went and had some fish and chips and clam chowder, of course!  A perfect end to the perfect, peaceful afternoon with my sweetheart that I'd been craving.  The worries and responsibilities of the daily grind were kept at bay for a few short hours, and we were able to enjoy a classic, made-to-order Southern California day.  I can't wait to get out on the water again.

Friday, February 22, 2013

My Week In The Salt Mines

Oh, my friends, it's been a week.  Most nights, I just crawled into bed with a whimper and started snoring (according to L).  It started out fabulously enough.  L had President's Day off from work.  Unfortunately, I DID have to work, but since my schedule is fairly loosey-goosey, we were able to schedule in some fun.  On Sunday we'd taken the bikes out for a nice ride, and were happy we were able to do it again on Monday.  Rain was a 'comin' so we wanted to take every advantage to get a ride in.  The air was cool starting out both days, but it turns out that it's perfect for riding - no nasty over heating, and not that many bugs were out down on the riverbed trail.  On Monday the wind had kicked up some, so it was a little bit harder ride coming back.  No matter.  I am working on getting thighs of steel (so far, they are still a little buttery) so wind resistance?  Bring it on!  It was a good end to the day, and we always enjoy an extra chance to spend the day together.  Thank you Presidents Washington and Lincoln!

Tuesday -  Clouds were rolling in, and we were on storm watch in Southern California.  I had my early morning meeting as always, and when I finished around 3pm I got in the car and drove over to see what trouble my aunt had managed to create.  (I've learned to be a pessimist where she's concerned...) Turns out they were having a little Mardi Gras celebration over there!  Of course, she was nowhere to be found, so I called her down to celebrate with everyone.  We actually had a good time.  There was a lady singing Cajun songs, and the oldsters were clapping and singing along.  I looked over at my aunt, and she actually had a smile on her face!  Miraculous...  Then the party started going strong.  The workers put on their Mardi Gras masks and formed a sort of Conga dance line, snaking through and around all of the residents.  There are two Lindas that work there, and both of them grabbed me as they went by, and I was swept away in the Mardi Gras tide.  Sadly, I had on Ugg boots, which are not good for dancing, but I did the best I could.  I asked Linda M if any of the gentlemen could get up and dance, and she pointed to one, and just as the singer started belting out "Diggy Li, Diggy Lo" I pulled him up and we had a fine little swing dance together.  The old boy had some life in him, and twirled me about and did all kinds of fancy little steps.  Great fun.  After leaving my gentleman friend winded and wheezing, I went back to my aunt, and I could tell she was enjoying herself, and disappointed when it was over.  I stayed and visited with her until dinner time (4:30 for the early birds!) and made my exit.  Fun couple of hours spent there.  Just before I left one of the directors caught me and told me that they had another large room available, and might my aunt want it?  Turns out she did, thank you, and it just wound her all up thinking about it.  I told her I'd be back on Thursday to look at it with her.

Wednesday - Dad's day in the hospital having an A-Fib ablation.  His heart has been beating too fast, and this will help him to feel better and not so tired.  Arrived at the hospital at 9am, and sat with my mom while she waited.  A good friend of mine who is also one of my old team when I worked with the sales field also came and waited with us.  She is a nurse with cardiac experience so she was all in the know and kept checking with the cath lab for us.  Turns out Dad didn't have to have the A-Fib ablation - just an A-Flutter ablation, which is a much smaller deal, involving only one chamber of the heart, rather than both.  So he was able to go home that afternoon.  I went with mom back to the cath lab recovery area and saw him.  He was very loopy and kept giggling about everything.  My dad is not a giggler, so it's rather alarming/entertaining to watch him behave like that, but it was a relief to know that everything had gone well, and he could go home after a couple of hours.  One of my sister in laws was waiting in the wings to help with that, so I went home and tried to get some work done.  An emotional, tiring day, and I was glad to have it end.

Thursday - Finished work and drove over to my aunt's to have a peek at the room she had a chance to move into.  Somehow, she had decided not to take it.  I went and looked at it anyway, and then asked her why she didn't want it.  Mostly, it seems, it was because making a decision was too difficult.  By that time I was very frustrated, and I confess that Linda M and I bullied her a little bit about making the decision.  It's a great room, with a lot more space than she has now, and I know she'll enjoy it after the initial hassle of moving.  And then I went home, realizing that what I'd done was bring the experience of moving her onto myself.  And I became overwhelmed and called my brother.  My brother who is so good about always helping me out.  He is Steady Eddie in a crisis.  And so we have help, because heaven knows she'll never get it done on her own.  My sweet niece Sarah offered to come help too.  I'm looking forward to spending time with her.  Family is a wonderful thing.

This is the new bed we got my aunt last week.  New leather headboard, new sheets and duvet cover and shams.  It looks so pretty in her room!  And the new mattress is perfect - no more falling out of bed!  Mission accomplished...

Friday - Dad is doing well.  Raring to go, and impatient with orders to stay up or downstairs the entire day, rather than making several trips up and down.  Ready and impatient to get back to his one workday next week, and resume his gym routine.  The man is an animal.  It was a quiet day.  A cold day.  I sat with my little space heater at the ready all day warming my toes.  Ate a chicken breast for breakfast and made myself a way-too-indulgent chocolate-peanut butter smoothie for lunch.  I didn't care - it was delicious.  I just couldn't handle another fruit smoothie... for some reason I'm not a huge fruit eater.  I much prefer veggies.  I think that makes me an oddball.  So be it.

L is on his way home.  We're going to go out and have fish and chips tonight at a little local place.  I love our Friday night dinners.  The weekend stretches ahead of us (we're going whale watching tomorrow!) and it's a good time to unwind and take a deep breath.  I don't have to worry about moving anyone until next week.  I'm not even going to think about boxes or wrapping up delicate items, or try to figure out how many people it will take to move that monster of a dresser.  Tonight it's just L, me, some fish and chips, and later, a new episode of Downton Abbey.  We're only on Season 2.  I've already had the finale of Season 3 spilled to me and I'm sick about it, but it's a funny thing: I can sort of convince my mind that perhaps things will change by the time I actually get to that point, and that dreadful "thing" won't really happen.  Of course it will, but in the meantime I can dream, can't I?

Have a lovely weekend, everyone.  As for me, I need to scurry in and finally take a shower so that L won't think I spent the whole day unwashed and barefaced.  Every boy needs his fantasies.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dear Valentine...

Happy Valentine's to all of you!  It's a day early, but I have the time to post now.  And you know how that is.  Besides, most of you won't even read this until the actual day anyway.  I spent my morning running down south to a doctor's appointment and a surprise visit to the lab for a little stickety stick with the needle for some labs.  I love my doctor - he's sooo unusual.  He spends about 20 minutes telling you what's new with him, and then he asks about you for about 60 seconds.  He's one of those genius types who can spot a problem in the bat of an eye, so it doesn't really bother me.  I'm just always amused at what he's willing to share with me.  I've gone through problem children (his), a divorce (his - nasty one) and 7 back surgeries (all his) with him.  I've gone to see his son's band play in a club, and I've listened to Dr. J perform his own compositions on his portable keyboard.  He's one of those rare individuals who is good at just about everything he tries.  Marriage and a back injury have been the only things that have proved a challenge to him, but it seems his latest surgeon has triumphed, and since he's on his 3rd wife, it seems that three may be a charm.  Happy Valentine's Day, Dr. J.

After giving up some blood (Valentine's Day red!) I headed north towards home.  I decided to stop and see my aunt before going home, as I had a couple of things to discuss with her.  I'm trying to help her sell a house in Lehi, Utah (remember, we discussed this last time?), and needed her permission to go ahead with a couple of things.  I haven't seen the house in several years, but I understand it's a fixer-upper at this point, so I think the easiest thing to do is to sell it as is for a lower price than it's listed at right now.  Anyone know of a buyer looking for a 4 bedroom that needs some TLC?  It even has a self contained apartment in the finished basement - kitchen, bath, bedroom, family room.  But it needs paint, some window repair, probably carpet.  Too much to deal with from California.  Margie was having a pretty good day today, and so we had a nice visit, and I brought her a pretty wreath for her door.  Happy Valentine's Day, Margie.

I thought about my parents today, and was happy that they are blessed to have another Valentine's Day together.  Not that my dad is a real romantic or anything, but he loves my mom like no other.  I wouldn't wish cancer on anyone, but I can see that the fight has brought them even closer than before.  Happy Valentine's Day Mom and Dad.

I always think about our kids and grandkids.  Not just today, but every day.  I wish for a healed knee (Rex), and less back pain (Ronna) for Rex and Ronna.  A wonderful, healthy baby in a few months.  Happy, happy days and fun Valentine's Day parties for Lexi and Matthew.  Blissful days and plenty of naps for Miss Skylee (her mommy needs her to have lots of naps...)  Happy Valentine's Day, Colorado family.

For Zach I wish for interesting cases at the hospital and lots of love from his girls.  For Katie I wish for warm sunny days - she is growing weary of the gray skies and freezing cold - and that new little bundle she herself is hoping for.  Mia should have happy schools days, and lots of organizing (did you know she loves to organize refrigerators?  I will keep that in mind during her next visit...)  Hayden needs to cherish this alone time with her mommy while Mia is at school.  And I wish for lots of Face Time with both of them.  Happy Valentine's Day Massachusetts family.

For Scott and Ashley, I wish a lovely romantic night filled with all of the lovely things that you can't do once there are little ones running around.  Productive, fulfilling days at their respective jobs, and always, always love at home - remembering where they came from, and where they need to go.  These two are goal makers, and I wish them dreams come true.  Happy Valentine's Day, my Texas sweethearts.

Tim and Autumn - I wish them the baby they are dreaming of.  I wish them the knowledge of how great a love you can have for a family of your own.  I wish they would move closer (oh wait - that's MY wish, not necessarily theirs...)  Happy Valentine's Day, my Big Apple couple.

And last - but not least - Andrew.  For him I wish a purpose.  Somewhere to go, and something to do every day.  Warmer days.  A patient, quality friend.  Maybe two.  Knowledge that his family loves him.  Happy Valentine's Day, Andrew.

Our table all set for our Valentine's Day dinner. The red cups will be filled with silver Hershey's kisses.  Two extra guests?  Nope... just we two...

That leaves the man of my dreams.  My sweet L.  Sender of Valentine's Day flowers (a day early!)  Chef extraordinaire.  The vacuum commandeer.  The one who will give up his Saturday plans to help me have a "fun" Saturday (he schedules many chores on Saturday).  Sadly, I am a slacker who sometimes just wants to have some irresponsible fun.  Is that too much to ask?  Apparently not, says this wonderful man who will walk away from a dirty car and take me to the movies or to the mall instead.  The man who ignores his own aches and pains, and instead bends down to rub my feet.  Life is good with him by my side, come what may.  And in 13 years, we've had our share of "come what may." So to him I declare with a heart full of love: Happy Valentine's Day, LaMar.  Long may we run.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

February Means Birthdays - Happy Birthday Rex and Ronna!

Finally February!  It seemed like January was going to last forever.  I do like February (I just don't like to spell it) because it's my oldest son's birth month, as well as his wife's.  Their birthdays start the year out for me.  

I like thinking back to when Rex was my soft, squishy baby with the big belly laugh - although he would be mortified to hear me say that.  He was the love of my 24 year old life back then.  And then he grew into a blonde toddler who loved to sing.  Loved to listen to any kind of music.  In grade school he joined the band and played French Horn.  Poor kid - lugging that big instrument back and forth to school.  But he was talented, and he kept at it until high school, when football proved more alluring.  In fact, his horn teacher told us he was one of the most talented students he'd ever had.  Sorry - I just had to stick that little bit of bragging in.  I loved listening to him play, and every once in awhile I miss those days.
Well, the French Horn fell to the wayside, and he started playing football.  And their team was really good.  Lots and lots of wins and championships here and there.  He grew up kind and developed a wickedly funny sense of humor.  My dad gave him his old 80-something gold Buick, and he would fit about 49 friends in there and go.  They called it the Hoopty.  One week their football rival stole the statues of the holy family at their school (he went to a Catholic high school) and buried them up to their necks.  Not very respectful, so in retaliation, Rex and some team buddies took the Hoopty and tore their football field up.  Just a little bit. Sadly, there aren't very many 80-something gold Buicks out there, so the Hoopty was easily recognized, and they had to face their punishment.  High school boys aren't all that bright, sometimes... But I couldn't stay mad.  Especially after hearing their version of it, and Rex's famous laugh.
He graduated, served a mission for our church, and found a lovely girl to marry - our Ronna.  Today they have 3 beautiful children: Lexi, Matthew and Skylee, AND another one on the way, due this summer.  So exciting!  They live in Colorado, and I never get to see them often enough, but now they are all the loves of my life.  So this week (Sunday) we'll wish Rex another happy birthday (with Ronna's to follow in a couple of weeks), and I'll think back yet again to the time when he was my little blonde boy with the Buster Brown haircut.  And the squishy, squishy cheeks like deep pillows.  Mothers are so embarrassing, aren't they?

February is also Valentine's Day.  I love this holiday because it gives me another excuse to send something to all of the grandkids.  I think about them all every day, and shed little tears in my heart because Colorado and Massachusetts are so, so far away.  But I will see them at some point this summer.  I will go to Massachusetts and sit on an Atlantic Ocean beach somewhere (Cape Cod?) with Mia and Hayden, and do silly things together.  I'm hoping Mia will read me a book or two.  And Hayden, our little "Opposite Girl" - well, we just play it by ear with her.  Whatever you want her to do, you tell her the opposite.  "Don't talk to me."  "Don't come over here." "Don't eat that."  She is her own person, and takes orders from no one.  But I'm sure we'll have a slumber party or two.  Or three.  And tea parties?  Yes please.

And then, of course, we'll have to go see the new baby in Colorado when it comes.  Rex is hoping for a boy to even the numbers out.  The rest of us don't care.  We just want a baby.  I don't have any work for July or August, so I'm pretty free to come and go.  The irony is that I don't have any work, so I won't have a paycheck either.  I have faith we'll figure it out, because I also have a trip on hold (for whenever she needs me) to go see my friend in Washington, and I'd also like to go up to the Bay Area and visit another friend.  A busy summer.  I hate that my family and friends live kind of far away, but I have to say that at least they all live in good places that I love to visit.

Then there's my aunt.  She has a house in Lehi, Utah that she needs to sell.  I'm helping her with that, as she doesn't need the added stress, and decision making is a little difficult and confusing for her right now.  It's a complicated thing, and I hope I make it out alive.  I visited her today and told her the progress made, and I could see her visibly relax.  Good - that's what I want.  So who knows?  Maybe we'll have to take a quick trip to Utah to figure things out there too!

Mom and Dad are doing well.  Thanks for asking.  Dad got the good news that his cancer levels have reduced quite a bit, and that was wonderful to hear.  He's hanging in there, working one day a week, and goes to the gym almost every day.  The man is an animal, and is kicking cancer's butt.  He takes a few more naps than before, and his hair is a little thinner, but he's a fighter.   And Mom is a little Ninja alongside him.

I had lunch today with a friend, and had such an enjoyable couple of hours.  It reminded me that I need to bust loose from my little office more often.  There is a crazy man on the loose in Southern California who is intent on killing cops and their families.  I kept my eyes peeled for his truck the entire time I was out today.  Turns out he is maybe somewhere up in the mountains by Big Bear, as they found his truck burning up there.  No sign of him, of course.  So we are on high alert, and when we go out we're looking over our shoulders for the crazy man who was also trained as a sniper, and who is on the loose with his arsenal and survival training.  There are alerts out for him from San Diego to the Central Coast, and a lot of very nervous cops, who accidentally shot 3 civilians who had the bad luck to be driving trucks similar to the suspect.  Seriously, if you have that kind of blue or gray Toyota truck, stay home.  Except now they've found it burning in the mountains, so it's safe to come out now, I guess.  Unless you run into the crazy man himself.  On second thought, I think I'll just stay in until they catch him - but with my luck he'll die in the snowstorm up in the mountains, and they won't find him until spring.

But back to my lunch, it really was fun to just get out of the house and talk and eat and talk some more. I even stuck to my diet, in case you were wondering.  I haven't had any bread, tortillas, etc for 2 weeks now!  If you know me, that's almost unbelievable!  But it's true, and I feel really good.  I'm even seeing a bit of wrist bone, which has been hiding under inflammation for the last little while.  Hello, bones!  You really are there, after all.  So I'll keep at it.  The weight is coming off very slowly (damn menopause metabolism) but it IS coming off.  I'll take it.

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