Thursday, July 31, 2008

Onward and Upward

So here's the good and the bad about blogging. The good is the opportunity to write and share. The bad is the pressure to keep it up. My parents have been here for two weeks and getting back into real life has been a struggle - so those are my excuses - accept them or don't. :-)

I have a pile of "to-do's" waiting for me on my desk. I got my work out in this morning with my Nazi trainer. Actually, that's not fair - he works me hard but he's extremely patient with my moaning and groaning. If he could just go home with me and keep me from eating - that's not too much to ask is it?

I have an article due for Family Pulse Magazine. I did tell them I was not longer going to write for them - but they asked me to do an essay from a teacher's perspective about my ideal parent of a student in my room. No research necessary for that - so it's doable for me. Of course, when I said yes, I had nothing else on my plate. The same day, two books arrived from Foreword Magazine with a request for me to write reviews. Okay - two writing projects, I can do that. Then last night I attend a production team meeting for the next Sierra School of Performing Art's sponsored - Broadway Bits. I already said no to being the production manager for this - I realized that with school starting and Dan's strong objection to the idea - it would be too much to handle. THANK GOODNESS I said no. Not because I wouldn't love working with my treasured friend Janet, but because it is a HUGE load of work. Just being on the committee, I now have a list of forms to produce that is longer than my arm and I need to call a school to set up rehearsal times. Not huge responsibilities in and of themselves, but with all the other things now being thrown my way - it feels like a lot.

That leads me to my problem with saying, "I'll do it." It sounds so cliche to have a problem with saying no, but often times I do. I know it is totally my ego. I feel so proud to be needed (ick!) and my ego explodes when I hear I'm the best one for the job. Am I a sucker or what? With working, the girls' schedules and my desperate need to have mandatory family time - there just isn't enough time in the day for me to keep saying yes. I keep hearing that I should add mediating into my life by doing it just one minute a day. Would it count if I did that while sitting on the toilet - because that may be my only opportunity after August 20th!

I had lots of emails about my post regarding my angst causing phone call on my birthday. I have no problem now saying the call was from my mother in law. The details aren't important and it was more about the proverbial straw breaking the proverbial camel's back than anything else. As it stands right now, I've kept my mouth shut. I heard a saying that when there starts to be a defense, it is the start of a war. I think that's true. Protecting myself is different than defending. I won't allow myself to be the brunt of anymore of her insane tantrums, but I also won't waste my time defending myself - she won't hear it and it will only add fuel to a fire that is down to a smolder. My children and husband are welcome and encouraged to have any relationship they choose to have with her - I am just no longer a part of that picture. For years I worried about being the bad daughter in-law - I'm over it! :-)

Alright, my "to do" list is still waiting. I'm looking forward to coffee with two friend this morning who feed my soul and who have been absent from my daily life for too many weeks. THEN, I will start on my list. :-)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Drama and Tears and Angst Oh My!

So I started this post yesterday then deleted it. I was afraid I would create more drama with it. Then I realized two things - first, hardly anyone reads this blog anyway :-) and 2nd, I created this blog as a place to communicate with family and friends. So, drama or no drama - here's what's going on.

First of all - super birthday surprises from my parents, children and husband. Fabulous gifts, loving poems - great food! My dad made my very favorite banana creme pie - yum! It was great to have my parents here for my birthday - I love my birthday and being the center of attention for the day. :-) Who better to create that for me than the two who are responsible for my birth? Dan has heard complaint after complaint each year because I set the bar very high for my birthday - poor guy. This year he really came through though! I don't think he can top asking me to marry him and finding out I was pregnant with our first child - but concert tickets came close! :-)

The drama, tears and angst came in the form of a hurtful, manipulative and unnecessary "birthday" phone call early in the day. I'm at a complete loss at how to handle this. My enlightened friends would tell me this is happening as a lesson for me - as a way to learn and grow. They would also tell me I somehow brought this into my life with my vibrations. I suppose the latter could be true - sort of a be careful what you wish for type situation. I like to be the center of attention on my birthday - next year I need to be more careful about how I vibrate that. :-) Those friends would also tell me I need to put my ego aside and handle it for that moment - not for all the moments before that this same person made me crazy. OY! I know this the way it should be handled. I need to focus on my own reactions - I can't control anything else.

However, the ego in me is strong today. I want to yell, scream, shout, defend myself and shoot below the belt to hurt back. This is all of course, what this person wants. More drama, more reason to call attention to her own need to feed her ego. I also need to consider how my reaction may affect my children and my husband. Is my ego's need more important than the possible fall out?

In the end, I know this blog will be as far as my venting goes. I won't become a punching bag and if the situation were to pass my way again - I will speak louder than I did this time. I will end the conversation and the drama. The reality is, as much as I love drama and being the center of attention - I want it in a way that makes me feel good inside and about who I am as a person, mother, wife, daughter, writer, teacher - human being.

I SOOOOOO appreciate the patience of any of you who read through this whole diatribe. Today is a new day - this too shall pass - and all that crap! :-) It could be worse right? It could be raining.......

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Age/favorite birthday gift/define happy

Well, tomorrow I turn 42. It seems like such a strange number to be. There are a lot of ages that create a picture in your mind's eye. 20 makes you think young, care free, with the whole world ahead of you. 30 creates a vision of settling down, career in order... you get the idea. What does 42 look like? I just can't see it - especially when I look in the mirror. Don't get me wrong , I'm not one of those perpetually 39 kind of people. I don't fear aging. Frankly, I see it as much better than the alternative. (not aging - DEATH) I also see each year as a notch in the self esteem belt. I'm not sure if I'm feeling better about myself or caring less what others think - either would be positive I think.

However, I do start to wonder if I'm doing all I'm "supposed" to do. Am I living life as it should be lived? Who has the answer to that? I think "supposed to" and "should" are words to eliminate from the English language - along with GUILT! That's what I want for my birthday - can any of you gift that to me?

On a lighter and less self-indulgent note - I won $220.00 tonight! I went gambling with my parents while Dan and the girls worked on my birthday surprises for tomorrow. The best is that I won it on a PENNY machine! Too fun! (wait a minute- was that less self-indulgent or more?)

I'm wondering what you all feel is the best birthday gift you've ever received. I have a couple and they are corny. Dan proposed to me right before a birthday and I found out I was pregnant with Bailie at the next one. Those were pretty terrific gifts. The corniest though is my favorite gift is when people remember. The phone calls I receive from friends I haven't talked with in a long while (thank you Elizabeth and Tami!), cards in the mail, emails. I'm such a Leo - that attention makes my mane swell! :-) So when you have time, let me know what you think you're favorite birthday gift was....

You know what else I have been wondering - (lots of time on my hands!) how would you define "happy?"

Monday, July 21, 2008


Phew! The kids are back from camp and we are all back home. Leaving my home away from home was incredibly more difficult than I thought. I didn't realize how much I was living in the moment until it was time to go home. Over the 20 some days I was there, I didn't think about my "to do" list, I didn't open my calendar.... I just enjoyed it. If I'm honest with myself, I would admit that I do find comfort in my "to do" lists and calendar. I like knowing who needs to be where and when. HOWEVER, doing nothing does not suck! :-)

Before my parents arrived and before the girls came home, Dan and I did a 7 1/2 mile hike to Rock Lake. (Yes, to my friends who know me - I REALLY hiked seven AND a half miles!) It was a beautiful hike. Bailie back packed into the lake with her camp group - she carried a 20lb pack. I only carried my day pack with water, so I don't have the same bragging rights she has, but I must say, I was mighty proud of myself.

My parents arrived two days before we picked up the girls. We went out to dinner at this great spot - The Iron Door. Dan and I had already gone there and loved it, so we were excited to take my folks. It was a great dinner, followed by a short walk to an ancient cemetery in the town of Johnsville. (By Plumas/Eureka State Park) We walked around reading the headstones and made up stories about the lives they might have lived.

I don't think I mentioned in early posts that while I was having my alone time, I painted my kitchen. Dan HATED the color. He said it looked like I smeared a frog on the walls. When my parents came, they convinced me to do a second coat. We actually really like it now. It is VERY green, but it is kind of retro and cool.

On a short political note. My friend Mary and I had a friendly bet going about who would take the Democratic nomination. She and I went to college together and have known each other for more years than either of us would probably admit. She was a strong Hillary supporter while I was in the Obama camp. As you all know, I won the bet! I was quite thrilled to arrive home and find a SMALL box with Mary's return address waiting for me. Tucked inside was the smallest bottle of Patron tequila that she could find. :-) My favorite tequila was promptly opened and enjoyed with a toast to you dear Mary!

My parents, my brother and my nephew all joined us picking up the girls at camp. Then we had a great Saturday and Sunday with the whole group listening to camp stories and enjoying each other's company.

Oh, and before I forget, the girls had a fabulous time at camp. Kate let me know she would go again and "really didn't miss you that much." Bailie said she would go again but seemed pretty happy to be home.

Well, now that I am facing reality again, I feel a bit melancholy. I wonder if life would be as wonderful at the cabin if I were there full time? Wouldn't that then become real life and not be as good? Is it possible to create what I had there - here? While I ponder that, I'm back to tennis lessons, volleyball camps, play dates and planning for the new school year....... instead of being sad about that though, I'm going in feeling incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to spend time alone, alone with my husband, and with my whole family - relaxed and happy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Dan and I took the long, windy, steep cliffs with no railing, drive to La Porte and Little Grass Valley Reservoir yesterday. I decided that even if I never drive the road and even if it is a huge tax, I will vote to pay whatever tax it takes to put railings on all those types of roads! Anyway, I camped at Little Grass Valley all the time when I was little. It was so much fun to go back and see the camp grounds, visit the beach and the lake. Stuff I hadn't thought about in years came flooding back.

We wanted to check out La Porte - population 35 or something ridiculous like that. We stopped and ate at a little "deli" where they barbecued us some hamburgers on the front porch. Three guys sat at the bar and found many uses for the term "soms of bitches" while they bashed all liberal democrats and described the freakishly enormous cat fish they caught. Even if they'd had banjos it couldn't have been more back woods cliche. The burgers were great though! We skedaddled out of there with my Obama sticker on the back of my car and decided to take a different route home.

While we wound our way through the hills, we drove past towns I hadn't heard about or thought of in years. Then we came around a curve and there was WOODLEAF! The place I spent 6th grade outdoor education camp, where I went as a high school counselor for 6th grades and where I won the "Mud Momma" award at Young Life camp. It was great to see it. It was teeming with Young lifers so we didn't stop but the comfort of the memories was nice.

We finally found Hwy 49 and weaved our way back to Portola. We stopped in Downiville and had a milkshake. What a cute town that is!

We got home and sat on our deck with cocktail in hand and just sighed the sighs of grateful and content people. It was a great day exploring and remembering. Then to come back to our little (emphasis on little) slice of heaven to watch birds, chipmunks and deer among the pine trees - it doesn't get any better than this!

Monday, July 14, 2008

My adventure continues

I've moved from solitude to couple time. I think it has been since before children that we have had so much time alone. Thanks to my parents and good friends, we have had get aways and time alone - but not for such an extended period of time. It has been great. We have eaten at restaurants up here that we've always talked about but in which we have never set foot. We have driven up roads just to see where they lead. We went to a "Solar Cook Off" in Taylorsville, CA. It is between Quincy and Lake Almanor. Thousands of people camp, cook with their solar cookers, listen to live bands, shop at the vendors selling tie die and jewelry... very few bras to be found, and I'm pretty sure if we searched the suitcases, the women did not own razors. We strolled around trying to look like we attend these things every weekend, but I have no doubt that people were pointing and whispering at the newbies who were faking it. Of course, there also seemed to be a lot of haze that wasn't just the smoke from the nearby fires, so maybe they didn't notice us at all. :-) It was an excellent people watching event and the music was great.

Speaking of music, we also went to the live music in the park that they have here on Friday nights. We got to watch and listen to Soljibe - a fabulous Reno band. They were great! As it got dark, all the kids were throwing glow necklaces in the air all around us - just missing the bats that were flying low...

I'm looking forward to checking the mail box to hear from the girls. Bailie writes a lot - Kate, not so much. I hope that means she's too busy having fun. I get this ache in my chest with missing them. I'm trying to focus on enjoying each moment of couple time - which I am certainly doing - but I get this occasional lost feeling - I compare it to what I hear people who have lost a limb feel - that phantom limb thing - it's like they are there but they're not. Okay - not the healthiest analogy - but you get what I mean. I'm looking forward to being able to wrap my arms around them.

Today we are heading to one of my old stomping grounds - I haven't been there since I was in high school (yes - a VERY long time ago!). We camped there when I was a kid. Little Grass Valley/LaPorte. We'll see where this journey takes us - we may find a road we haven't explored yet.

I'm reading a FABULOUS book - Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn - I don't know how it ends but as of right now, I would highly recommend it. It is written by Kris Radish - she also wrote The Elegant Gathering of White Snows. I'm sensing a theme of the strength of women and friendships. I would love to hear about other books with this theme if you know of any. (Another I read was Same Sweet Girls)

I feel like I'm in another world rather than just an hour from my normal life. I'm so grateful I have this time and space to experience this. I wish this for everyone.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sad news

I heard some sad news today. The father of a student of mine died yesterday. He had been battling ALS for sometime. Hard to imagine being 11 and losing your dad. My heart is breaking for him and his brother. So again, if you're inclined to pray or send out positive, comforting vibrations...
Oh, and my friend Ann's brother is home now. He seems to be doing really well....healing...

Economy Sermon

Dan drove up last night and we enjoyed some lasagna that was supposed to be for book club and watched some DVDs of the Showtime series's - Weeds and Californication. We don't get Showtime but I had heard a lot about these series and since we don't get cable at all at the cabin - I thought it might be fun to watch these. They are very well written. The dialogue is witty, quick and sharp. They use the "F" word a little more than my liking - not that I don't partake in a little trashy mouth on occasion - it is just used as often as most of us may use the word "is".

I got a letter from my oldest from camp. It wasn't the cheeriest of letters. I wanted to drive to camp, scoop her up and let her know mommy would take care of everything. Fortunately, common sense prevailed and I only wrote her a long letter about finding the positives, the experience being what she makes it etc. It sounds like she and her younger sister are comforting each other a lot - which if that is the only thing that comes out of this camp, it is worth the money we paid. :-) They are so funny together - typical siblings. One minute they are laughing, sharing secrets - the next they are screaming and pulling hair. I'd love more of the first....

Yesterday I watched a gray squirrel work very hard to eat out of my bird feeder. This morning there are a zillion jays all around it. I have seen what we call the "cheeseburger bird" (because it's song sounds like "cheeeeese buurr g er" ) eating there - but those nasty, big, and mean jays tend to dominate. But guess what - on my way back from the mail box (it is several miles from my house) I saw ANOTHER TURKEY! It was hanging out with a couple of deer. I think someone may have put food out - a major no no - and they were all feasting together. Very trippy!

The smoke is pretty hideous yet again. But at least it cooled off quite a bit after sundown last night. It has been ridiculously hot - about 10 degrees cooler than the valley, but still too hot. No one up here has air conditioning - it is rarely needed - but man it would nice to have right now!

I met a lady who is trying to keep her book store open in the current economy. Her determination was inspiring. She focused on the positives - which is so important right now. We could all sit around complaining about the gas prices, and the domino affect that has on the rest of the prices - which believe me, I am feeling - but maybe this is our opportunity as a community, and country to count our blessings. If we vibrate gratefulness as a whole, things may turn around in spite of our current ignorant leader. :-) Plus, (I know, I'm getting preachy - but it's my blog, indulge me!) this is a chance to support each other and help where help is needed. Ask your neighbors if you can pick anything up at the store for them if you're going -save them the gas. Find those little ways to make the day better for someone you know who needs it. It all vibrates back to you......whatever you put out there, good or bad, it comes back to you.....

Okay, done with my sermon!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

writer ramblings

I was staring at the file on my computer labeled "writing stuff." I must have 50 or 60 files in that folder. Not to mention a stack of hard copy file folders will much of the same and some different. I have tons of brilliant beginnings. Some even have fairly good middles. Sadly, very few have endings. I came to the realization today that that has to do with my inability to stay in the moment. When I get an idea to write - I start off with gusto. Then, while my fingers type away, my mind starts to wander and think about how long this writing is going to take. My mind inevitably leaps then to how much I'll have to edit and re do when I finally do finish it. I get so completely overwhelmed by the whole and can't stay focused on just writing, right now and in the moment. Does that ever happen to any of you? Maybe in tasks other than writing? How often do we tell our children or did we hear from our mothers that if we spent more time doing and less time worrying about the doing, we'd already be done?

I'm sure once I'm finished with my Davis Lake sabbatical, I will be blogging less - so thanks for your patience with how many posts I have in just two days.

My book club isn't making it up here after all. I will miss the laughter and camaraderie, but maybe I'm supposed to have one more day to explore this "alone" time....

My friend Ann is sitting next to her brother, keeping him company in the hospital. If you're inclined to pray or send out good vibrations or whatever your beliefs - send some positive energy her way.

What a turkey looks like

Not my turkey but this is what it looked like.....

Turkey sighting

I took a long walk early this morning. I wanted to get my excercise while it was still cool out. I saw much of the usual, ground squirrels, chipmunks, lots of mountain jays (or is it Stellar jays?), and LBJ's (little brown jobber birds :-)). But, what I didn't expect was what I caught out of the corner of my eye - a turkey! There it was, just looking at me with the same shocked expression I must have been giving him (or her?) back. I didn't realize we had wild turkeys in this area - but sure enough, we do! I wish I had my phone at the ready to take a photo to share - I wasn't that quick.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Okay, I tried to meditate and I just can't seem to get it. Any tips? I give up fairly quickly - maybe it's because I don't know what to expect so I just assume I'm doing it wrong. I figured being up here alone would be the perfect time to try it so then I could sort of figure it out for when I'm back in the chaos and try to do it again. Ugh...
It's cooling down here now, the sun is behind the trees and I'm on my deck enjoying the birds and the trees. We had much less smoke in the sky today - thank goodness. The heat has brought out every conceivable insect in the known world. I knew there were big spiders and ants out here - but wholly cow - there are what Dan identified as June bugs, horse flies, many different sizes and colors of moths, things that as kids we called mosquito eaters - but they must not be eating the mosquitoes because there are tons of those too!

My book club is joining me here on Thursday. I'm looking forward to the laughter and great conversation that always come out of our being together. Dan will arrive the next day and we will have a week together. I think it will be good to take the time to remember why we fell in love in the first place so that when the girls are grown and gone (already happening too quickly) we will still find comfort, laughter and joy together.

My parents will be here to join Dan and I at the end of that 2nd week and to pick up the girls at camp. Ahhh, camp. I hope Kate isn't having to use her inhaler too often with this smoke and I hope Bailie is relaxed and being her 13 year old amazing self. I hope Kate is laughing her infectious laugh and that both are making friends. I have to imagine all the good times to counteract my fear they are crying themselves to sleep. I guess that is a bit self aggrandizing - assuming they are missing me rather than lost in all the fun they are having. :-)

If you have any tips on mediating - please share - HELP! :-)

I finally did it!

Well, I did it - finally. I've started blogging. My friends Tricia and Suzy inspired me to quit being a blog "lurker" and join the fun. My daughters are at camp for two weeks and I am enjoying some quiet time at my fabulous cabin near Lake Davis. Have you ever had a "be careful what you wish for.." experiences? I've been dreaming about this peace and quiet since last September when we signed the girls up for camp. Now, don't get me wrong, I was dreading dropping them off and have worried just about every second since driving away, but as you parents know - more than a couple of hours of alone time is quite rare. I woke this morning with no schedule, no place to be, no one to take care of, and for a moment, instead of nervana, I felt shear panic. What was I thinking? All this time by myself? How soon until I'm eating a half gallon of ice cream because no one is watching? I started doing the usual, I checked email, paid a few bills, did my breakfast dishes, started a load of laundry.... then it hit me. I'm in the woods, I'm by myself and I can do ANYTHING I want! Soooo, I went for a long walk and tried to focus on just that moment. That's my one of my newest goals, try to be in the moment more often than not.
This is not an easy task for me. Either I'm planning ahead or berating myself for something in the past.
Wow, now I really am rambling. I've realized a couple of things today. First, and really probably the most important, I like myself. I'm an okay person with whom to spend time alone. Whoda thunk it? The other is that I'm incredibly grateful to have this time. How lucky am I? How many people have the opportunity to spend two weeks in the mountains, at a cabin doing basically whatever they choose? I also realized - though this is not a new realization, just a reminder- I love my daughters and husband. I love the craziness of our lives, the daily, sometimes hourly challenges, and just being together. We all went to the fireworks in Graeagle the night before the girls went to camp. I listened and watched as my husband and daughters layed flat on their backs and giggled, whooped and hollared over each and every spectacular display in the sky. I wanted to bottle that moment. I over flowed with gratefulness - corny, but none the less true.
Okay, I think this is enough for today. It's cooling off outside and I want to take a stroll.
Oh, before I go - guess what my writer friends? I started back on my fiction today. I wrote for a couple of hours straight. It's been a long time..... I feel like I've come home again. I will keep it up, even when school starts again and I'm facing all those 4th grades. They've got to give me an idea or two - don't you think?