Not Homecoming

September 30, 2016

T’was a bit of a weird juxtaposition.. I was sitting at Mishka’s in a window seat, drinking coffee, trying to catch up on a whole bunch of back blogs, but instead was just stuck in a very reflective space wondering how Peter was handling his first full week of classes, knowing it was a big day class-wise (four lectures and maybe a breakout discussion or two). I was in a full-on he’s in college now moment, when I heard the sound of a marching band–not unusual in this town–and looked out the window to see the DHS Homecoming parade slowly, but boisterously, rolling by:


That would be the football team, or part of it. I see a baseball teammate hanging off the back of the float–John L–but don’t recognize too many others (well, actually, none!).

Suddenly high school seemed so … yesterday.  Or, more accurately, yesteryear. 

What’s more, Peter wasn’t coming home, as the celebration billed.

I was feeling both weirded out and happy.

Here’s what I am not missing: feeling guilty about not reading the Daily Bulletin and the PTA notices (which I’m still getting in my email, but which I now delete with just a tad too much gusto); having to track or worry about bell schedules, assembly days, testing schedules; obsessing about SchoolLoop; having to worry about things I ought to be volunteering for; thinking about whether all the homework’s getting done; keeping lunch supplies ample; contributing to teacher recognition potlucks; tracking game schedules; volunteering for all the car pools…

I loved it all (minus the guilt of not being a perfect and dutiful parent of a school aged kid) and, yet, now it’s all completely off my list of concerns. Which actually feels unimaginably liberating. Being a parent of a college aged kid has its own issues and demands, but it’s different.

I think maybe I’ve written about this before, but it sure hit home as I watched that parade moving by in slow motion.


Modern Humor

September 29, 2016

After a day of unpacking, decompressing, catching up, and settling in for what could be a long 3-4 week stint at home (can I get a yay!!)… I spend a lovely evening with Janet… talking, drinking wine, yucking it up.

This was on her counter… a card she bought for a colleague.  I thought it was great and could apply to so much…


The Gals

September 28, 2016

For posterity, posting a photo of Dorie and Eppie–sisters–who care for my mom 24/7.


I can’t even begin to count the number of women who’ve been in and out of this job in the past nearly seven years. For the most part, they are saints who take care of the a multitude of tasks, big and small, with patience and pride. Most are originally from the Philippines.

As good as they often are, 24/7 is a hard pill to swallow for most, especially my mom. Sure I’ve written plenty about the friction, compromises, conflicted feelings, awkwardnesses… it’s just hard.

But, it’s nice to see these two smiling.


Post script: I drove home today. Didn’t leave until about 1:00pm, after a nice breakfast and a full game of gin rummy (my winning streak continued!). I called mom when I got to the other side of the Grapevine–always a nice place to take a break and put in a miss you, thinking about you call.  All was good.

About an hour and a half later, just as I’d passed Harris Ranch, I got a call from Dorie, upset. Mom had fired her and she was banished to the driveway. Suffice to say, this left us in a bit of a pickle, as mom can’t be alone. I was hours away, Matt was in line at LAX, about to board a plane for Dublin, Chris was, at that moment, unreachable. I even left a series of panicked phone messages for Betsy. Long story short: the police (yes, mom had called the police) stayed until we’d finally reached Chris, who, thankfully, arrived reasonably soon thereafter; Matt brokered a quick solution with Eppie, who agreed to fill in for her sister and who also able to find another person, Ellen, who could work her weekend shift; and we were back in business. Chris hung around for the evening to keep mom’s spirits up, and filled in a couple of blocks of time over the next four days when Eppie and Ellen had previous commitments; I continued on home; and Matt took off for a week in Ireland.

And that was that. Good team work!



September 27, 2016

In the end, what matters most are the kindnesses. Today, I was moved by a very sweet one.

Mom was ready for an outing. We were going to be seeing temps in Palos Verdes in the high 90s, unheard of. She was feeling much better and wanted to test her wheels.

She dressed for the occasion.. not that she doesn’t always dress for the occasion, but today was particularly fun:


That would be a floor-length striped sundress, complete with a fashion slit. And, also of note, she’s using a walker… that is definitely a new addition to the travel pack. This is important: it’s not only a realization, but an acceptance, of the need for a little help. It is a step in the right direction and opens a lot more independent doors than it closes pride doors. If you know what I mean.

It should be noted: she always dresses more thoughtfully stylishly than I do!  (I am losing the fashion competition, but I might be winning the wrinkle race.) (Grammar question: can you have two adverbs in a row like that?) (My blog, my rules: yes.)

Anyway. We went to the beach. And wow… it was hot, but soft and beautiful:


It was too hot for people to endure the scorching, exposed sand. Brutal.

Still… we sat, talked (argued a bit), hydrated … and took in the view:



Then, we headed to Trader Joe’s to get some flowers. We loaded our cart with multiple, colorful bunches and went straight to the checkout–no shopping, no taste samples, no coffee. There, Michael, the longtime cashier whose dreads are now gray, remarked on our selections and asked if I had a favorite. (At this point, I have to mention that yesterday, I was at TJ’s picking up a few things and got into a long conversation with Michael. He knew I was in town to spend time with mom and especially to support her as she recovered from a long hospital stay.)

I root around in my brain’s limited flower archive and come up with lily. Michael excuses himself, leaving us alone at the check out counter for an awkward minute, and returns with a large bunch of lilies–the really sweet-smelling kind often adorning our Dillon Beach cottage. He says, “This is for you, on me, for all you do for your mom.” Then, turning to my mom, says, “We are so glad to see you back!”

I’m pretty stunned, but also so delighted and moved. It was a perfect gesture.


Here’s our cart, including the lilies:


Kindnesses. Right?






Tonight was the media event of the political season. After more hype than I can ever recall for a political debate (honestly, clocks permanently located in the lower third, excitedly counting down to the moment the debate starts… a week away; promotion ads worthy of a boxing championship; unending, repetitive analysis of what each candidate would say and do… thank you media, who thrive on record breaking audiences, who will keep that playing field as even as possible through false equivalencies, and whose goal it is to keep us panting on the edge of our seats, eyes glued to their coverage), we had our first face-off between the two major party candidates for president of the United States.


Cutting to the chase, it was an embarrassing display of ignorance and ridiculously rude, immature behavior on the part of Trump, but an immensely satisfying knock out delivered by the ever-prepared, if calculated, Hillary. After a few weeks of growing despair as the gap narrowed to a statistical and improbable tie, and wondering what was going to become of our threadbare democracy if Trump should pull out a win–which suddenly seemed a real and horrifying possibility–the victory was sweet.

But man…  the weeks leading up have been brutal!

I have been watching Trump’s momentum build in stunned horror. I actually cried in frustration, feeling hopelessly defeated, as I drove down to PV last week, feeling like this country is on its way to electing the most unqualified, ill-suited person ever to serve as president. A man entirely committed to self service against a woman who’s committed her entire life to public service. A man who says, among a firehose of other unforgivable things, “I like money. I’m very greedy. I’m a greedy person. I shouldn’t tell you that, I’m a greedy — I’ve always been greedy. I love money, right?” 

Crass, vulgar and utterly classless.

And until the debate tonight, mind boggling as it is, Trump had all the mo.

Well… tonight I could breathe again. Her qualifications for the office were in full display — command of facts, experience, temperament, a role model for our kids. He just thrashed, sniffed, bullied, lied and couldn’t go a full two minutes on any policy question, lacking depth and understanding of anything. He just yelled and blustered his way through 90 minutes. And then, afterward, after completely embarrassing himself and the republican party, complained the mic didn’t work, and threatened to bring to the next debate a discussion of Hillary’s husband’s infidelities decades ago (he of the multiple affairs, marriages and demeaning beauty pageants).

At least that was my reaction. Will see how the polls go. I’m definitely on the edge of my seat for that.


Super Sunday

September 25, 2016

Mom and I went to the beach…


(Mom’s getting her fair share of selfies.)

We played cards…


(Cards with sea shells!)

And we had a nice dinner. A well-seasoned Trader Joe’s marinated pork tenderloin…


… that came out so well!


(I could work on presentation, but it was very tasty.)

Me and P

September 24, 2016

Didn’t expect to spend the day with Peter in San Diego. Peter had planned to attend a massive UCSD beach party and I thought I’d be heading back up to PV right after breakfast. But timing, I think, resulted in Peter missing that all important window for being in the right place at the right time with the right people and by the time we were having breakfast down in Pacific Beach, he felt like he’d missed the boat on the party.

Which meant he had a whole day to do some San Diego exploring. With me.

Very lucky me.

Started with breakfast here, at the Broken Yolk on Garnet, one of Pacific Beach’s main commercial drags:


Then decided to drive out to Coronado Island…


… and check out the famed Hotel Del Coronado..



It sits adjacent to a beautiful beach:


Peter and I ended up walking a long way along the beach walk… the sun was intense. It looks like a lot of people get married at the Hotel Del, at adjacent hotels, and on the sand.. we saw lots of wedding paraphernalia.

After an hour or two of walking around, we made our way south along Hwy 75 until it ended, just a few miles north of the Mexican border, then headed back north on I-5, toward Balboa Park to explore that a bit.

We missed the turnoff and found ourselves just north of the park and back in the Hillcrest neighborhood. I realized we were fairly close to North Park, where Grandma Celia used to live. I asked Peter if he’d indulge me as I tried to find her old place… he was game. We made our way east along University Avenue and I reckoned my way to her old apartment. I knew she lived north of University and as soon as I saw all the state names, I knew it was Ohio. I had a pretty good sense of which block the apartment was on, having visited her numerous times, and I’m willing to bet this was it:


I didn’t know that in the intervening 40 years, North Park had become one of the hippest neighborhoods of San Diego!

Here’s another one of those neighborhood landmark signs:


(Peter took this picture for me as I drove and applied his own filter… not bad!)

It was more emotional than I expected. I didn’t cry or anything, but I certainly felt sentimental–a combination of thinking fondly about Grandma Celia, seeing her old place and remembering lots of dinners there with her, reminiscing about my two years at UCSD… a time when I was the same age as Peter is now, of course, … and then PETER… starting his college career in the same place. It was just a whole bunch of crazy juxtapositions and felt surreal and insanely time warpy.

Whew. Deep breath.

Mostly… it was just so nice to be with him. Have I said that already?  That kept me feeling pretty tender the whole day.. tender in a very nice way.

Then we dropped into Balboa Park to check that out.  Balboa park is a 1200-acre urban cultural park with about a dozen museums, gardens, trails, and, of course, the Zoo, and, double of course, the Balboa Park Golf Course (where Peter, Bobby and Ray played golf earlier in the week, in the rain, I might add). It’s a very pretty setting spread over hills and canyons and contains some extraordinary architecture. I thought it was very cool. And, surprisingly, I took no pictures.

After driving around and saying things like, “wow, there’s the Air and Space Museum,” or “hey, the San Diego Museum of Art,” or “that’s that famous Botanical Building,” we decided to have a late lunch. Peter thought “a cafe” would be perfect, so searched and settled on the Crest Cafe back in Hillcrest. Here’s a shot of the side of the building and gives you an inkling that it’s going to be something fun:


The weekend brunch crowd had cleared out and besides that guy at the counter, we were the only customers so had the full attention of the waiter, who really gave us great local info and was interested in Peter’s new life in SD.. it was much fun. Here’s a shot of the interior.


And the menu:


Peter got the Mango and Brie Quesadilla and I got the Nutter Grilled Cheese:


I’d floated the idea that we go to the Padre-Giants game, but Peter said his suite mates were going to play poker that evening and he didn’t want to miss it… so we went back..

And that was that. Dropped him at the dorms and LEFT HIM BEHIND AGAIN!

Yay. Boo.