Friday, May 30, 2014

Claiming My Space

In the wake of Maya Angelo's death, the Santa Barbara massacre and the corruption at the Veteran's Administration its hard to comment on trivia, but perhaps its just as well to be distracted for a bit.
May and June are house and garden project times here and much is scheduled for this new home-owner on Oakmont Drive. As I write, Paul, my handyman is here repainting the deck boards and railings that withered over the winter. Kelly, my housekeeper, offered an old garden bench for front porch decor, and Paul is painting the sides of it orchid color to match the lavender color scheme in my new front garden. I want every one driving by to know an artist lives here.
Tomorrow an electrician is supposed to come to install the overhead light and fan in my bedroom and a week from today my new front door is supposed to arrive. I'll hardly recognize the place. Its a good feeling to make it my own.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend

While all over America citizens are bumper to bumper on clogged roads, this citizen is once again staying home and enjoying the old car show here on the grounds (see June 7, 2013 blog). This year I hope to coax some of the proud vintage car owners to tell their stories.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning these days I go to Heart Works for cardio rehab. It is a good program, populated mostly by old men, usually with zipper scars down their chests from bypass surgery, and round tummies (I should talk). The thing that distinguishes them the most, however, is their constant telling of war stories. We are not allowed to read while working out, so I guess that gives the veterans among us full permission to recount their personal experiences in war. I get pretty exasperated waiting for a treadmill while two old codgers, feet not moving,  try to outdo one another with their personal horror stories. This week, however, I found myself listening  patiently, even genuinely, to some of their stories, and feeling gratitude for their sacrifices.
My maternal grandfather whom I adored, at sixteen lied about his age and after enlistment was sent from England to Africa. He never talked about it, nor did he talk about being wounded in France, and a victim of mustard gas. I remember sitting on his knee and saying "Grandpa, tell me about the war..." He would always reply, " I fought in three wars: the Boer War, the first World War, and the war with grandma, and the hardest of the three was the war with grandma!"  I would giggle, and beg him to tell me the same story over and over. I just loved it.
Below are pictures from last year's vintage car show here. I note with regret I

never got around to painting any of them. Hope I do better this year.

Friday, May 16, 2014

It Could Be Worse....Or, The New Bay Bridge Is Not The Only One With Problems

About ten  minutes before hosting book club at two at my house yesterday I glanced at the calendar and discovered to my exasperation that I had the wrong date----its two weeks away. What was I to do with my freshly brewed herb iced tea, homemade persimmon cookies, fresh fresh strawberries and young green peas from the farm down the road? Everyone in Oakmont is less than ten minutes away, so I called in three new friends, they complied, and we gabbed about local trivia till five. At seven I hosted our writing group and they convenienced me by eating some of the leftovers. This partly explains why I am eating cookies and drinking iced tea for breakfast.
Its no wonder I am more jumbled than usual. Sunday night, eating dinner, a trauma of major proportions occurred. As I bit down, the bridge spanning my four front teeth crashed. That is to say, the two anchor teeth broke off way below the gumline and out fell my pearlies.
As a kid at camp I fell on a rock, killing the two front teeth. (Fascinating how many kids do this, isn't it.) So I have worn some kind of dental apparatus for about seventy years. The new broken bridge was only 18 months old and I expected it to outlive me. A hurried trip to stay with friends in Hayward followed (yes, it was wonderful to see them) but a visit to the old San Leandro dentist provided little
comfort. In one day she was able to provide me with a temporary partial ($915) and the bad news that I needed to see a specialist in reconstruction in Santa Rosa.
Thursday he confirmed my fears. The surgery to remove the broken roots is tricky, but he can do it, and in about eight months and two implants I will have a restored smile and chewing ability. Oh yes, and my pocket book will be $10-15,000 slimmer. Meanwhile, with the temporary, I have a new little lisp and can sometimes create a cute whistle I never had before. I'm not tackling any spareribs or corn on the cob, thats for sure. I wonder what will happen when I go to harmonica class today at 11? Perhaps if I take out my front teeth I will be able to do a riff?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Our Changing Outlook

The dorms at the University of Washington were reserved for vets (thanks to the GI bill) returning from WW2 when I entered the University of Washington in the fall of 1948. Like so many other girls, I pledged a sorority for a place to toss my pillow. It was a challenge, but I lucked out by having two roommates who were probably just as unfit for sorority girl life as was I. Dolores and Shirley and I all live in California now, and retain hysterical memories of those long ago days.
Last Saturday I drove to Napa to visit with Dolores in her lovely condo. She gifted me this photo
taken by her Mom April 4, 1953. Thats sixty-one years ago if my math is correct. Egad. Giggling over the photo at lunch we decided were were pretty cute way back then. We had the waitress at the Napa General Store snap our picture so we could compare notes. What a difference six decades make.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Groaning and Growing

Like the vineyards, this last week has been so overflowing with activity that i forgot to write my blog yesterday.
I'm back at cardio rehab three days a week and my muscles feel it. Our two day mini heat wave got me to sleeping in the study where there is already an overhead fan (waiting to have one installed soon in my bedroom). My new garden is beginning to explode with color and the watering bill is rising precariously as the new plantings need water their first year even though they are all on drip.

Just south about five minutes in Kenwood, the strawberry stand with the best strawberries next to Washington state, is now open. From the tiny parking lot one can see an uncut  field of mustard
the sheep or mowing machines have not touched, with the vineyards behind.
Today I'm driving to Napa to have lunch with my old college roommate Dolores. Catherine and I made this drive last Saturday for a mutual friend's 90th, and I imagine the grape vines will have grown a foot in the six days since I've seen them. Their rate of growth confounds me, but then so does the rate of the permed growth on my thinning silver locks.
The botched Oklahoma execution has me fuming and of course the news channels are consumed with the actions of the NBA. There were so many things I could have written about for our creative writing group but instead I choose to write about secrets. There is some humor as well as some seriousness in the piece.

“I have a secret to be told..” goes the refrain of an old love song about blue Canadian skies.. The secret was a gallant mountie lost his way but found a heart of gold. I loved to hear my big sister sing as she played  it 
on our Baby Grand Steinway, a treasure we were to loose in the depression, though that too was a secret. 

As a child, I found the keeping of secrets such a burden that it consumed my dreams, and sometimes my waking hours as well: my own secrets, my sister’s secrets, my girlfriends’ secrets, and especially my mother’s secrets, not to mention family secrets. Sometimes I wondered if my devoted pit bull, Mike, had secrets. Not that I didn’t have plenty of my own.  I even had a secret hiding place in a vacant lot under the bracken ferns where I dreamed secret dreams. And a secret monster with eight elastic hairy arms lived under my big double bed, so that I would have to sleep rigid right in the middle or else be grabbed and devoured. 

I often had secret stomach aches.. and once I had secret Athlete’s foot.  But the worst was the secret of keeping so many secrets. 

Some of my secrets are so haunting and personal they will die with me, which is my wish. Others have been shared and transformed so many times they are gems of humor to be shared on long drives or around campfires. . 

When I was eleven and a summer camper at Camp Sealth on Vashon Island we would build fires with driftwood, listen to the waves,  and try to out-tell one another. 
I remember one girl confiding that she knew the worst word in the English language. She described this word as so vulgar, so intimate, so serious that of course we had to coax her into telling. I think it took three starry nights before we broke down her reserve. The silence was intense, as her lips softly formed the response. The word was “breast”. We sat in stunned silence, not knowing why it was so bad, and speechless to add a comment. 

Funny that I chose a profession in later life in which confidentiality was not only prescribed but the law. As a psychotherapist I spent my working hours hearing secrets which would  never be told, because of course they are secrets. 

I'll try to get more pictures on my drive today. So funny to live here in the wine country and be a tea-tottler. Yet they seem to accept me. Here's to you!