You've entered Melodyland, where perception is slightly skewed, potential is limitless and imaginary people live happily ever after

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nov. 30, 2011 Old Town San Diego

These are pictures of Old Town San Diego, which was started in 1738 when Cabrillo came to town from Spain.  It's a definite microcosm of Spanish/Mexican architecture and has great shopping if you're into the Southwestern look.

It's the best place in the U.S. to get Mexican food in California too. 

Nov. 30, 2011 San Diego Harbor

This is the Rosecrans National Cemetery at Point Loma, San Diego, California.  The Pacific Ocean is in the distance beyond the cemetery.  San Diego Harbor is on the other side as Point Loma is a promentory surrounded by water.  The cliff is 400 feet tall.

We were standing at the end of Point Loma looking into the mouth of the harbor with the sea behind us.  The military base is sticking out into the harbor, a nuclear submarine is being pulled by a tugboat out into the ocean.  The island coming in from the right is North Island where my father worked when I was a child.  San Diego is in the background. This was a critical site during WWI.  Bunkers with armaments are all under the ground where we were standing.

The city of San Diego's skyline is in the background here.  The foreground is military landing strips for the base.  The water is at the mouth of the harbor.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nov. 29, 2011 Two Split Peas and An Ice Cube

Last night we pulled into San Diego's Mission Bay RV park with our little Coyote trailer.  Since Thanksgiving Day when I landed at Ontario Airport, we've been seeing people we haven't seen in some cases for years.  I've decided the best way to renew acquaintances is over turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.  However the combination of jet lag and overindulgence for three days has made my eyes spastic, so I was glad to start back on my eating regimine of two split peas and three ice cubes a day.  Vision is clearing up, thankfully. 

We left oldies in the CD player all night and drowsed from five p.m. till this morning at six a.m.  A truly irresponsible vacation has started!  Today we're going to visit cousins we haven't seen in many years.  They've been hanging around town after the big family reunion Thanksgiving my family has every year.  Since I couldn't get an earlier flight into the city after canceling the first one because my mom fell, I unfortunately missed that celebration.  However, not short of family from the other side (the dark side?) we still saw about forty relatives and non relatives in Riverside (near Ontario, California).

This morning we drove out to Rosecrans National Cemetery at Point Loma, high above the Pacific Ocean, and watched destroyers and submarines make their way out of the San Diego Harbor below us.  A spectacular view.  We did take pictures and after I figure out how to do it, will put a couple of them here.  It's impossible to describe the poignancy to see the hundreds of thousands of graves in a national cemetery. 

We saw my cousins this afternoon and relived some old stories of the sort only families can tell--who looks like whom as they age, what the kids from the fourth generation are doing and remember when's in abundance.

Tonight we're listening to Charlie Rich do his croon thing and catching up on such things as email and blogging.  It's cozy and romantic in the belly of the Coyote after having real true Mexican food for dinner.  The sun is mirrored in the glass architecture on it's way into the sea.  The San Diego Skyline is lit up like any big city, but is exacerbated by the reflection across the harbor.  Picture Lake Lanier times 500.

I'll catch y'all tomorrow.  Maybe my jetlag will let me stay up till 7 p.m. tomorrow!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

November 23, 2011 Combat Shopping Warning


You won't be needing an AK47 for the mall.  However, there are items for combat shopping that you'll regret not having, and those are pretty basic.

Gather ads from mail circulars over the few weeks before shopping, buy a Sunday newspaper, and clip all the ads and coupons you can find.  Put these for handy reference into your left leg camouflage pants.  Charge your cell phone the night before you shop. And a couple of weeks earlier, start a little workout so you can slip sideways between people and aisle merchandise easily.

Prepare yourself!  Comfortable shoes are not just for women who look like men in bad clothing.  You'll need them.  Not only that, you'll be smart to take another pair in your newfound friend—the mesh picnic bag.  Consider a foldable fabric bag with wheels.  Aisles are no longer aisles—they're now supply dumps for un-saleable items, and are a huge obstruction to shopping carts, even if the store you choose happens to have such a thing.  Toss a pair of small flat shoes, a bottle of water and a can of diet drink into the bag.  When you're convinced your toes will never be the same, simply change shoes.  A drink of water will cost you $2.00 at the mall.   When it nears and you stop for lunch, you'll find yourself in a 30-person line.  Then it'll be a tossup as to whether you'll live long enough to reach the counter.  But you'll have your handy diet drink to sustain you while you wait out the line.  You could even skip lunch this way and eat at your line-free kitchen when you get home.  A tiny camp stool isn't a bad idea either, since stores discourage sitting and there are often no seats available in the entire mall!

I know that expensive things usually come in small boxes, but at least you can get all your purchases into the bag you've brought, so consider the assets of jewelry, finger puppets, Kindles, socks and skip the household goods aisle. 

Even if it's minus 2 degrees outside, the mall will be 80 degrees inside, so wear a vest you can take off and stuff into your mesh/rolling bag as well.

Put money, credit cards, ID and keys into a little makeup case and Velcro it shut inside the right leg pocket of your camouflage fatigue pants.  Don't forget to take your cell phone or bring a set of walkie talkies if someone goes with you. Plan to be separated...it's a sure bet.  A field compass is a must for malls larger than a WalMart store.

Whatever you do, don't take a husband along.  I lost mine after seeing him bobbing and weaving around a department store cologne counter, dodging a sales clerk determined to expose him to the latest fragrance.  He disappeared and it took two weeks for me to find him after that.  He was suffering from Mall Knees and had to be sedated.

And don't even think about taking a small grandchild with you for his/her opinion or size.   His opinion will not be constructive in the throes of mall mania and you can measure him before you leave.  Bringing a child is akin to having an unpinned hand grenade with you.  Not only will your shopping be interrupted because she will want to eat four times, but she will suddenly cry from neglect.  Or he will suddenly clear the aisle by stretching out his arms and running full tilt down between stacks of merchandise that have attracted a bending fat lady, incidentally dragging his hand over her fanny, causing an immediate screech and full force explosion. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November 19, 2011 God's Hands

I've been reminded about God's hands this week.  They don't come out of the firmament accompanied by a bolt of lightning, but through a person (in this case, a man) who gets an inordinate glee from being allowed to do something that fascinates him. 

Let me explain:  Picture a guy--just a kid really, maybe as much as 30 years old, but looking 17, who walks into a hospital room wearing very slick slacks, dressy shirt, shiny shoes.  He looks like he's getting ready to go on a date, all spiffy and eager, contained.  He has come to talk about options for what can possibly be done for a 95 year old mother with a broken hip who cannot speak for herself.  I, the daughter ask him about alternatives to the radical surgery.  He explains those, none of them acceptable to my way of thinking.  I tell him I view the alternatives as a cruel thing to do to an old woman.  He agrees.
So I say I think it's important that my mother be able to walk as long as she's on the earth, that he should do the surgery.

Now's the good part:  He gives me a huge smile, rubs his hands together and does a little bounce.  He says he'll be in touch and barely containing himself, whisks out the door.  Permission has been granted for him to do what he loves.

Wednesday, this man/child takes out a crushed ball joint in my mother's hip, replaces it with a titanium prosthesis, and sews/glues it all back together very neatly.  On Friday, my 95 year old mother walks across the room (not dances, more like staggers) but gets there and back.

Now, who told that kid he could keep a certainly imminent and painful death away from my little mother for a little while longer?  It was just another day for him.  It was maybe a couple more years for us.  There is no doubt in my mind that God streamed through science and this man's mind and hands to accomplish a miracle.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November 16, 2011 The Bionic Mama

Well, the trip got temporarily cancelled, as my mother fell and broke her other hip.  We just went through this two years ago with the first one.  She's going to be the bionic 95 year old mama.  A matching new titanium ball joint was installed just this morning.  I asked for a little more colorful one, but they said, like the original Volkswagens, they only come in one color.

Since I've been at the hospital for  38 hours, I think I'll sleep in tomorrow.

Monday, November 14, 2011

November 14, 2011 Abby's Great Adventure

As some people may know,  my husband got a temporary job in California, where he will be for six months.  Because he will need his truck for this job, he's driving out there with Abby the Cavalier and our little camping trailer to sleep in on the way.

Now, I know everybody says this about their dogs, but Abby IS the best dog in the world.  She thinks like a very well behaved child and rarely turns into a dog.  On this trip west, Abby slept in a little kennel, as she is kennel trained.  One morning she wouldn't come out of the kennel, which has never happened in her lifetime of four people years.  Darrel got down to see what was wrong, but nothing was wrong.  Worried, he tipped the kennel so she had to come out.  She sat and stared at him as he got her food out to put in her bowl for breakfast.  When he reached for her bowl, he saw her water had tipped over and was all over the floor.  She wouldn't come out of her kennel because she felt guilty for apparently stepping in her water dish in the night and dumping it over.

I have other dog stories but I know most people are bored stiff with such things.  Sometimes the things Abby does touch me in their innocence.  

And if I had a decent picture of The Darrel, I'd post it.  But for now, he seems to be the one taking all the pictures and is in so few of them I'm surprised as I look through my computer album.  I'll look through my thumb drive pictures and see what I can find.  And make a mental note to take more pictures of his sweet face.

My friend Arlene sent me a picture of The Darrel I'm going to add to my post here.  Isn't he cute?  Abby and her best friend Tara are not bad either.   He recently got rid of the beard thing.  I celebrated in the closet with my wine.

Did you ever go out of town for six months?  It's kind of like making a permanent move, and my hat's off to all of those people who travel constantly in motorhomes, in and out like troubadors.  I've been home meeting previous obligations but will join him by plane soon.   Where will he live?  Who does the banking back home?  Who takes care of the mail?  Who waters the plants?  Who maintains the house if "something" happens?  Who keeps the electronics working?  Who maintains the yard?  So many things can go wrong when one is not at home to monitor.  And how would I be with my husband over the holidays if nobody was there to take care of my mom, if my dog couldn't travel? 

Well, I'm here to tell you, just like my book writing adventure...it takes a village.  A village of friends, family and encouraging people to facilitate something like this for us.  At first, I thought I'd just have to stay home, fly out for two days maybe, then back again.  But a veritible army of people have stepped forward for us.  It awes me that people are so selfless in this world where time has become a treasure.

It's purely spooky to be home alone.  Also tremendously freeing, I think.  Eat when you want, sleep when you want, think about me, me, me.  Looking down for a little brown person who isn't there--eek, where is she?   Nobody filling my gas tank but me.  Nobody else making coffee in the morning.  Nobody knowing what I'm going to say before I say it.  My right arm seems to be gone.  Weird.

Maybe freedom sucks sometimes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

October 10, 2011 The Saved Day

Today I spent most of the day painting a picture that was a total flop.  I disappointed myself and the lady the picture was being done for.  I may try it again another day but for now I have to live with it.  And I'm not even sure what happened to me, and yes, I feel like a loser to a point.  Of course, I lose a lot of the time, so am familiar with that feeling, have come to accept it.  Doesn't mean it's going to last forever.  It used to bother me a lot, which had no relevance to the passed outcome I could not change. 

One day, along came The Darrel, who pointed out to me the assets of the ******* bucket, where all things failure are to be tossed.  So I learned to toss, which took a really long time, but it's the road to sanity so was critical that I learn it.

Meanwhile, the offset prize was a signing at the Cumming Women's Club meeting at the home of Katherine Sulak last night.  I love bookclub people.  My first love outside of my family has always been real estate.  That segued into writing.  But now it's rivaled with talking about books.  Of course it's a personal delight to hear what people have to say about Auraria Dead but discussing other books is almost as much fun. 

People last night asked me about what Emily looks like, about where Mason's name came from, about Casa Grande, Arizona, American Indians, gold mining, Auraria, Ga.  All sorts of questions.  I've lived with these characters for so long it was easy for me to explain them to others.  It's very comfortable talking about those you know so well.  I've learned to not be intimidated when speaking about my people.  When I first started after the book was out, my knees shook.  It was too long ago I took my two Speech classes in college.  I guess I was afraid I wouldn't be able to answer a question somebody might ask.  But the commonality of the story and the enthusiasm of the people who've read the book opens the door beautifully to fun discussions.  I'd love to make each of these real people my new best friends.

I'm thankful for my life.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

October 11, 2011 The Going Home Feeling

The wagon train left today for the West.  The Wild West, where you can see forever without the massive forests left behind "out east."  Where the mountains burst from the earth like they're fixing to boil, and  roll up so high it makes your neck ache to look at the top of them.  The Rockies, those giant boulders stacked across a limitless land filled with miners seeking the wealth they have to offer.  You can hear drums beat as you cross New Mexico and the wind swifting through the wings of eagles as Arizona appears on its terrace.

Okay, romance aside, I do love going home sometimes--to smell what's left of the orange blossoms, see what else has been torn down or remodeled.  Talk fast again.  Use short fat butter cubes instead of southern long skinny ones. 

It's all about the people.  I feel like a pea back in its pod for a vacation, mingled with all those other familiar peas.  Then there are the baby sweet peas I barely know, separated by miles, years and lack of history together.  At least I know their names, thanks to the diligence of my geneaological relatives, which I will be memorizing for the next week.  But they don't know I pushed their grandma down the stairs a hundred years ago when we were kids, and don't really care much.  They've been pushing their cousins down the stairs too and some day their great great grand neices won't know it.  Or care.

I somehow feel reincarnated.  I had a childhood then messed that up by growing up, then messed that up by moving so far away from home.  Now I have the perfect life.  Which is sweeter?  My only choice is the life I'm in now.  But the other two are still here, competing for my emotions and love.  I have to put them each in chambers in my mind and keep opening the doors to check on everybody.  Maybe it's a mental visit I do.  This time it'll be a real visit to my past--kind of scrambled with an altered present.  Seems like a one-way street since I can't drag everybody out east (south) with me to put them into the same conundrum.

I need a shrink.

Monday, November 7, 2011

October 7, 2011 Honor the Mother and the Father

Pam, in facebook, got me started thinking about my parents.  When I was a little kid I never thought about parents' needs and accepted their wants as a way of life.  "We" put up with incoveniences for their dreams.  "We" put up with their choices of dog or cat.  "We" were sort of around like so much cord wood, kind of like those animals, but cleaner.  "I," on the other hand, always had a better idea, but nobody ever asked me what I thought.  Of course that would have been foolish of them.

This thing of considering the opinion of a child trend of today kind of surprises me.  "Where do you want to go for dinner?" "What do you want to do on Saturday?" "Which sports do you want to play this year?"  Never heard of it.
My parents were about going to college for seven years after work (the mom), finally affording a piano (the dad).  Putting together programs for the students (my mother was a teacher), repairing the cars so they could go to work (the dad).

We didn't go out to dinner because there was no fast food, and restaurants were too expensive.  Saturdays were work days to catch up for the week.  There were no sports but football.  If school hadn't had PE, I wouldn't know a baseball from a treadmill.

My parents did the best they could.  They kept us more or less clean and we never left the refrigerator door open so the ice wouldn't melt.  I didn't know what that meant until I was 15.  I thought the refrigerator was in fear of defrosting itself.
My mother, born in the Sonoran Desert. who in her past literally was lucky to have ice in a metal box to cool food, meant exactly that the ice was going to melt, and it was expensive and hard to get. Wasteful.

Sometimes I leave the refrigerator door open in my kitchen now while I peruse what to fix for dinner., guilt screaming in my temples, I refuse to buckle under.  I also let the water run to get hot.  Water was treasure to my mother.  She was raised in the desert with a pump well.  But I let it run in defiance of that memory.  Once I heard the reason for the expression "don't throw the baby out with the bath water."  Once, a washtub was filled with water for bath night.  The dad got in first, finished, the mom got in, then the eldest child and on down to the last one being the baby.  Water was grim after a crew of ten, and sometimes they couldn't find the baby in the water, I guess.

My father died when he was 60 of a mysterious disease he incurred eight years earlier about three days after he retired from his day job.  My father, who was an Irish Tenor, sang from the time he was in highschool, through the danceband era and until his throat would no longer work.  He played a wood-sweetened clarinet and immaculate saxaphone in dance bands of the 30's.  But not at home.  I only ever heard him play scales (reason for the piano) at home.  Since I was a child I wasn't allowed in the nightclubs where he played early on or the private parties where  he and his quartet sang into the wee morning hours.  I heard him sing a solo of The Lord's Prayer one time in church.  It is a treasured memory.  Every now and then I get angry that I missed my dad's life almost entirely.  However, all the soft shoe songs, the big band music was all we had on the old 78's my father collected.  I couldn't afford the modern music 45 records, so listened to the old stuff, was enchanted by the beauty of Stan Kenton and Glenn Miller.  I can identify with old people as they listen to the music I was "forced" to grow up with.  I can sing along with them and feel like the child they remember themselves being. 

I can honor my father's memory for giving me this.  Not to mention food, clothing, schooling and life.

Nostalgic Melody

Sunday, November 6, 2011

October 6, 2011 168 Cousins

Today I took a little drive up to Murrayville to see my friend, Melanie who sells Miche bags.  So cool, those bags are interchangeable...you lift out the lining with all the stuff and put it into another color bag to match your new red suit.  Melanie wouldn't cooperate by selling me one of them already stocked with credit cards and lipstick though.  I'm thinking my computer might fit into one of the large size ones.  But if not, maybe I can get some manuscripts in one?  Manuscripts are kind of like your children--you have to know where they are at all times.

She also agreed to be added to my BookEnds Crit Group, so I'm going to be sending her a couple of scenes from Chattahoochee Dead so she can let me know where I'm screwing up. A couple of other nice women, Michelle and Judy have sent me some of their thoughts already.

I'm leaving town for a while, to go see cousins.  I have 168 cousins last time I counted them.  I'm sure I'll need to make a recount soon, and I only count four generations because my mind can't really get around all those other folks I never met who have gone on before.  Anyway, I'm taking the computer so I can write inbetween visiting.  Besides I really hate to miss anything.

One of the reasons my main character in my Maria Sebastian series has so many cousin issues is because of my family.
None of the circumstances are true or are actual people, but the interaction I've observed is described pretty accurately.  So I've mixed these up with real estate situations, agents and client possibilities to get people who could walk the earth, even though they hadn't been invented yet.  Characters are kind of like dreams--they get put together in random access but to be possible they have to have a little backstory for why they turned out to be the way they are.

#338 in Life's Little Instruction Book:  Live your life so that your epitaph could read, "No regrets."


Saturday, November 5, 2011

November 5, 2011 Wedding for the birds

In the throes of empty nest syndrome one day, I wandered into a pet store to look at the puppies for fun, and heard some birds singing at the other end of the store.  Zebra finches were chattering and jumping around.  They looked like little hand painted works of art and sang happy little songs.  They were inexpensive, so I bought a pair of them and took them home in a pretty yellow cage (which wasn't inexpensive).

Having so much life in the house was fun.  Like a good bird mother, I supplied them egg food and a nest, swings, perches and toys and watched them cavort in their pink bathtub where they splashed in the water and chased each other around.  Pretty soon there were miniscule eggs in their nest and to my surprise, they all hatched into impossibly little fuzz balls.  Real birds grew right before my eyes. 

I went back to the pet store and looked at the other birds.  There were Lavenders and  blue Cordon-bleus, Melba finches, Java Rice finches, Pekin robins, canaries.  A world of birds, each of whom sang its own wonderful song.  Enchanted, I made plans to adopt a houseful so they could sing for me every day.  Over a period of six months I acquired pairs of the little delights, keeping up with who didn't want to be in the cage with whom, who was getting molested too frequently by its over-zealous mate, who was in need of alone time, which pairs were nesting and who was obviously not enamored of his/her mate (selected by me, go figure).

When my daughter became engaged and was going to be married in the yard under the gazebo, we planned to hang flower-covered cages with little troubadours around the yard for atmosphere.

My brother the genius made a tiny cage, just big enough for two little white zebra finches to fit for a very short length of time, as topping for the wedding cake.  Finally the day came.  Doilies and flowers bordered the top layer of the cake for "protection" and just before the reception, the tiny white birds were put in the little cage and placed on top of the cake.  They made a dramatic picture. 

But wait, what were they doing on the bottom of the cage?  They could just fit their bitty toes through the tiny bars and were scraping up the doilies, sticking their beaks into the frosting and going mad with delight.  Or a sugar high.

Soon I was going to have two over-zealous cake toppings dead from frosting over indulgence –This could put a damper on the beginning of a life together for the bride and groom.  What to do?  Guests were beginning to arrive.  Pictures were being taken, bridesmaids were running around the hallways carrying shoes and flowers.

I casually greeted a guest, who squinted his eyes at me as I backed up to the cake, opened the little door and reached inside to scoop the tiny maniacs from the cage.  One escaped over my head.   It was never seen again, probably still on his way to South America.  The other one had to be put in solitary confinement for two days from excitement overdose.

My mother saved the day by filling the cage with some leftover hibiscus blossoms.

Somehow, the bride never noticed her cake topper(s) had flown the coop.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

October 2, 2011 Bling Belt Visit

I forgot to mention I stopped in yesterday to visit my bling belt where it lives temporarily at the western store. I figure I can bring it home when my waistline looks like Dolly Parton's third best asset, the first two of those being her hair and her boobs, in no paticular order.

I was going to grow up to be Susan Anton, with legs up to here and blonde, but only made it approximately as far ss Suzanne Pleshette (without the smoker voice). At least that's what I've been told.

So God and I have been working on it for a long long time, and I know it will happen one day if I live long enough. When you see a 95 year old woman making her way down the street with her walker, if she's wearing a bling belt, wave. It's me.

Yay! The grandson cut the suckers off the crape myrtles, carried the far backseat out of the Excursion to the basement, cleaned out the refrigerator, washed it and restocked it and then did all the other appliances. Then he vacuumed the whole house for me. My heart runneth over.

The Darrel went to the post office in Dawsonville today and spoke with Warren Carlson who has worked there for years. Warren told Darrel he took Auraria Deadhome with him and read twenty pages before his wife got the book and started reading it. She stayed up all night reading then told him in the morning that it was the best book she ever read. I think I'll send that lady some flowers.

Am finished with the panels for the Annie set. When I started the nine of them I was told I had two weeks to draw them so I thought I might get them painted by that time as well. However, things being what they are, it turned out to be they needed them in three days instead of two weeks. Needless to say, I won't be doing any painting on them, and I barely got the last three sketched in. I think Marcia at the Bowen Center was going to have her six year old art class kids start painting on them. The Annie singers' parents are supposed to paint them tonight, but I don't see how they'll be able to do all of them.

I think Abby feels better after her Benedryl experience, but I don't plan to give her any more of it unless the itchies get worse again.

And I did see some of the finished tables set up for the Saturday luncheon today. They're absolutely fabulous. The only way they could outdo the ones this year is to have a live person in greasepaint hanging over one of the tables by their teeth.

My personal favorite message from Life's Little Instruction Book is #71: Learn to make something beautiful with your hands.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November 1, 2011 Wow...look at the woods!

November. Wow! Look at the color in the woods and know there's a God out there. Even if I find myself wondering what he's doing sometimes.

Abby survived the teeth cleaning (what a surprise!)and is going around smiling a lot today, showing off.

Today I'm going back over to the Bowen Center to draw/paint. Am having a wonderful time too. It's sort of like being put in a room with all the equipment you'd ever need and being told to do whatever you want. But I need to get faster as time is of the essence as usual. We're working on the backdrops for the children's theater musical production of "Annie." Though I've painted many murals, I've never done backdrops on panels before, so it's a new experience for me. Kinda intimidating too. Nine panels in two weeks. All I'm supposed to do is the drawing--others are assigned to do the painting, so maybe it will work out fine. So far I've got four drawn out--only five to go.

The new courthouse folks notified me they want one of my paintings to hang in the new building. The downside is my choices are I can donate it permanently or donate it for a year. I'm not sure about this.

We went to the Halloween party/candy immersion last night. I took my soon to be famous (no awards yet) apple pie. It was hot since I barely got it out of the oven in time, so was received well. Possibly because it was warm and the thermometer dived into the 30's last night. But we're inveterate partiers and hung out in the dark with all the neighbors. We'll never know if that pie was actually good or not.

I just started sending scenes of my new book, Chattahoochee Dead, to new readers I'm calling the BookEnds Crit group, so important to me. Michelle, Judy, Pamela and Janice have agreed to give me feedback on this story. I'm looking forward to finding out where I've caused problems for readers.

A thought for today: #260 (from Life's Little Instruction Book) Every day show your family how much you love them with your words, with your touch, and with your thoughtfulness.