Saturday, February 28, 2009


Litter is ugly, distracting and in some cases even dangerous.

But I don't think people intentionally throw trash on the road. I am sure that they think, "Oh, it's just one thing, it isn't much." When the wind catches that plastic bag and whips it out of their reach, "Rats! I didn't get it. Well, someone else will pick it up."

However, I must admit to the exact opposite view of people who discard alcohol containers and half-smoked cigarettes. I don't think ANYone can 'accidentally' throw a beer bottle out the window. And I KNOW cigarette smokers think, "Oh, it's just the butt, it won't hurt anything."

(What should this be called; Anti-Tippling? Discrimination against Budding Pyromaniacs? Bigotry of Beer? Has anyone created a Self-Help Program for them, with the twelve steps of accepting addicts? Should I?)

Groups have used the free advertising aspect of the Adopt-A-Road for personal agendas - my husband still grimaces every time he passes the sign for "the Young Republicans of Cochise County" - and the "Gay Rights Group of Bisbee" section actually got torched once. The photo to the right is actually how they 're-named' the KKK in Missouri.

But my neighbors do it simply out of the goodness in their hearts. Their road is labeled "Ragman and Ruckus" - the names of their respective dogs.

So yesterday I helped on this mile-long stretch of state highway 92. Armed with the extremely strong and vividly blue trash bags, we were set loose upon a wide expanse of road.... of course, only AFTER we had all signed a form that would keep us or our families from suing the county is we got run over by a semi, etc.

Now, you do need to understand that this was ARIZONA road. Which means it is flanked on both sides by ARIZONA FLORA.

Which is flora with an attitude.

Mesquite trees are 90% thorns - not little thorns, as on a rose bush, but hard, solid BIG thorns - big enough to punch thorough the heaviest jeans and make you bleed. Tumbleweeds (which is actually Russian Thistle dried out)... WOUND. Even our scrub grass... INJURES.

So the actual job is untangling plastic shards from fairly dangerous and aggressive plants while standing in tall, thick scrub grass which is the home of the Arizonan rattlesnake.

I think we should be awarded the equivalent of the Purple Heart.

Friday, February 27, 2009


To say that I am not a morning person is a gross understatement, and does not even begin to touch how bad my mornings are.

I believe, perhaps wrongly, that I am normally a cheerful and polite person (please feel free to contradict me; just remain aware that I will burst into tears when you do).

And it seems like the way I can remain a cheerful and polite person is to be the grumpiest, meanest bitch for the first hour I am awake. My excuse, at least.

So when I awake, I normally am the epitome of the the hungover, blearily-eyed staggering night owl, staggering to get a coffee fix.... except for the fact that I don't drink coffee, so some Diet Coke or Mt. Dew.

There is a line from "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert Heidlein which I am going to paraphrase badly, but describes this condition perfectly: "For a long long time, he had been getting through that black period between waking up and the first cup of coffee by telling himself that tomorrow might be a little easier."

However, this morning was different.

Today I woke up and felt LIKE GETTING UP. I stood up and FELT GOOD. I walked into the bathroom and ACTUALLY SMILED at my reflection in the mirror.

Lord, whatever you did, keep it coming, please.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


To someone from Los Angeles or New York, Tucson is a quaint little desert town.
That would have been me thirty-five years ago.
To someone from a place like Palominas, Arizona, Tucson is a noisy, crowded and unfriendly place.
And that was me today.

I drove my daughter up to see a pain specialist in Tucson, and took the big leap of signing up at Costco, so at least when I'm up there with her, I can stock up on paper towels and toilet paper.
And for someone from Los Angeles, it is ludicrous to feel intimidated by a town the size of Tucson.
But now, living on a dirt road, three miles off the highway, without streetlights, utility poles and/or traffic lights... I must admit I was actually uncomfortable with speeding cars, quick lane changes which are necessary, and what the hell is the difference between "I-10 - Phoenix", "I-10 - Tuscon" and "I-10 - Downtown Exits" and why do you have to choose one four times when all three of them end in EXACTLY the same place?!
Sorry - exhaust fumes have obviously clouded my thoughts.

Monday, February 23, 2009


How many of us have wanted to be on television?

No, not as the star of a home video that made it to "America's Funniest Videos" and shows you sliding on the ice, your hemline up around your ears or being the victim of a vicious prank.

But as a 'person' - famous for something you did, or didn't do. Maybe because you are in a movie with some actual lines instead of just a walk-on part.

I have also thought the announcer on Jeopardy had the perfect job.

Johnny Gilbert introduces the players, and then pronounces Alex Trebek's name properly (which seems to be incredibly important part of the job), and that's it. I'd like to have a job like that.

But I don't think the majority of you out there (all three of my regular readers) know that Harmony and I appeared on television together a while ago.

Well, actually, quite a while ago.

While pregnant with Harmony, I took a Shakespearean course at Kansas State University. It was taught by the drama couch, with us actually staging the play(s) in a theatre. And it was a lot of fun.

The drama couch guy was wonderful, but my advanced state of pregnancy made everyone in the class more than a little nervous - they kept waiting for the baby to pop out during a reading.

Then immediately after Harmony's birth, I took an ASL (American Sign Language) course. The instructor was fine about me bringing the baby to classes, as long as I kept her quiet.

So when the local PBS station came by to film a spot on our class, guess who they put front and center of the class, had the instructor sign "What is your baby's name?" and me answering "Harmony"?

I'm just waiting for the Oscar nominations to roll in.

29 years later.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I must admit to being vertically challenged.

When I was four, I towered over my niece, who was a year older than me. I thought it had something to do with her being a blonde.

At age eight, I was as tall as my mother. I thought it had something to do with wearing high heels all the time (I'm not saying any of these thoughts were in any way logical).

At age twelve, I was the same height as my brother, who was five years old than me. I thought it had something to do with his long-term relationship with various chemicals.

By fourteen, I was taller than any boy in middle school. I thought it was simply because boys were so stupid.

In college, I worked at a roller-skate rink, which added four inches to my height, and learned not to be ashamed of it. (NOTE: that was also the year Randy Newman wrote the song "Short People").

Okay, Hope, is this leading to anything, like, SIGNIFICANT?!

Well, I am glad you asked that question. Because the answer is (drum roll, please) the JCPenney Spring Catalog.


On the very first page, wide-leg jeans CA 844-5170, Misses Long, has a THIRTY-FIVE INSEAM!!

Around the world, women who are taller than 5'7", use coupon code CASVE10 before March 8th.

And no, I am not getting paid for this free advertising. Although, JCPenney, if you would like to send some bucks my way, I would not turn it away.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I have been paying particular attention this week to the subject of breathing.

At first it was only a slight tickle in my throat, which became a light clearing of my throat.
But then, taking matters into its own hands, it rapidly developed into a racking, hacking cough of a ex-smoker.
Forcing me into violent contortions while trying to simultaneously to cough up what was clogging my windpipe while drawing in enough breath in to fuel the muscles that were trying to cough.

It swiftly became one of those embarrassing situations where the action of trying to get rid of something triggers another bodily purpose which is, in civilized society, is conducted in private.

Translation: trying not to pee while coughing up a lung.

It's much better after a visit to my favorite physician, although the household is ribbing me incessantly about the quality and quantity of noise which I continue to produce every few minutes.

The dogs are positioning themselves as far away from me as possible, the horses have been startled into a full-out gallop around the pasture, and the cat has simply disappeared.

More cough syrup, anyone?

Friday, February 20, 2009


I am the antiphrasis (the opposite) of fashion. My entire life has been a fight against the fashion police - my mom, my older sisters, and (I don't what I did in a previous life to warrant this, but it musta big something BIG) my oldest daughter.

Somehow I was born with the idea that clothing is to cover our nakedness and keep us warm if and when necessary. And to me, blue jeans, a tee shirt, sweatshirt and shoes is enough to deal with that.
And I have to assume that there ARE women out there who purchase things like this.
If this is a way to stimulate the economy... well, I'm not playing.

Now, office supplies - now with THOSE I can go completely overboard with. I have never met a file folder that I love. There is no such thing as too many paper clips. Hand me a storage box; my knees are weak.

Something like this - Lord, take me now, my life is complete.


NEEDED TO START IMMEDIATELY: Hard working self-starter for chores, decision making, decorating and repairs. Must be a professional-trained nutritionist, personal fitness trainer, motivational speaker and voice coach.

I'm tired of being the one who is always in charge.

One of the nicest things about being in vacation is that you don't have to do the things you detest. If your laundry piles up, hey, it's vacation. The walls that need to painted, the microwave which was bombed last night by someones left-overs, the film of dust on the piano... none of it has to be addressed.

The sagging stomach muscles, the skimming of important documents - when I get home, I promise.

You can take the second dessert without any guilt - stay up late talking because you don't have to get up early tomorrow. You obviously have earned the time off, so why worry.

Which only worsens coming back to the waves of unfinished laundry, stacked piles of unopened mail, empty cupboards, animal hair everywhere.

Suddenly you have to acknowledge the scale which says yes, you still have 45 lbs. to lose - the mirror that screams, WHY HAVE YOU NOT BEEN MOISTURIZING - the church that whispers, you don't have your two grandchildren as an excuse anymore, you need to attend your meetings!

But our heating system is what began this train of thought. It's sort of like a faithful wife - you don't her until she is gone. This winter has been a particularly cold one, and our trustworthy little heater just keeps grinding on and spewing forth slightly warm air until the requested temperature is reached, and then shuts off with only one small gasp.

And yesterday, she seemed to be working just fine; at least the groan was familiar. It was a cold day, but I was accustomed to wearing three shirts, so I didn't notice any change.

Until it was 11:30 p.m., and when I walked back in the house after saying good night to Najale and Sally. And opening the front door, anticipating that nice rush of warm air.... in vain.

Some of you must have husbands who at least pretend to be a handyman. Who stare knowingly at the gauges, bang the machine with something silvery, take some things off and place theses greasy, dirty parts right on the newly cleaned carpet. That take two trips to Ace Hardware, come back with various mechanical pieces that turn out to be part c-117 and NOT the essential part C-118.

And then you call in a professional to fix the stupid thing - it takes him 12 minutes, and costs you $178.00.

My husband's honesty in this area should be commendable, but it drives me NUTS.

"Hey, honey, the heater isn't working!"

And that's it.

So then I am the one who has to stare knowingly at the gauges, bang the machine with something silvery, and take the two trips to Ace Hardware.

Fortunately, I, being the superior sex, also unplugged and replugged every wire I could see, cleaned out the fan area and rebooted the entire system.

And it worked.

I dust off my hands and sit back down in proud superiority.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Today I have two and a half hours to kill in town between doctor's appointments and getting my hair done.

And all my normal resources for this free time somehow aren't appropriate, for reasons as follows:

- Going to the gym -- don't have a towel, and the gym does not provide them

- Getting a extra large double-chocolate frappucinoe (I am guessing at the spelling here) at Starbucks -- don't have a good book with me to read

- Taking a nap at my daughter's apartment in town --her cleaning standards, low enough to begin with, have crashed and I just KNOW I would end up cleaning, bitching about it, and not getting a nap.

- Taken possession of the local Cold Stone Creamery and holding hostages -- two days ago we had a SWAT team show up in Sierra Vista to kick out a disgruntled motel guest who wouldn't take eviction nicely (he racked up a shotgun when the constable showed him the legal papers for him to leave), and they are probably rested enough now (the SWAT team, not the motel guy) to show up if I try to take over an ice cream store.

So I had to take the road to the warm, quiet public library and talk the sweet little old lady librarian into letting us the Internet computers for an hour.

And once again, am going to be totally frustrated whenever I finally get home and have to deal with my normal slow dial-up modem -- this baby is FAST.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


There are some things that you just don't do after turning 50.

Your bones are becoming 'brittle' (which used to be a cool kinda chocolate and nut candy deal that you spread out on a heavily buttered pan). 'Cracked pelvis' actually means something now.

You know more about fiber, irregularity and prunes than you ever wanted to, and worse yet, now you NEED to know it.

A regiment of daily aspirin is undertaken (doesn't that sound like it should be some kind of contact sport for the geriatric crowd - on horseback with armor). Your muscles now sag instead of bouncing back.

And, as my dad used to say, you read the obituaries just to be certain yours has not been published yet.

In other words, you ain't a youngster no more.

Sure, somethings you can get away with - in the Southwest where I live, our motorcycle 'gangs' are entirely grey-haired couples with flesh bulging out of the leather vests. Convertibles, which actually are sensible vehicles out here, are a standard for the mid-life crisis crowd.

But how many 'mature' individuals do you know that have gone sky-diving for the first time? Learn to pole vault? Walk barefoot over glowing coals? (although now I would love to do that - remind me to tell you about it sometime)

However, I am seriously considering getting a motorcycle to ride. At age 53.

My brother got a little tiny two-stroke Honda when I was 12, and of course taught me to ride it as soon as he could. And since I was 5'10" already, never got stopped or questioned and could ride it anywhere.... when I could talk my brother out of it and would promise to fill up the tank before I brought it home.

And it was a blast. Literally. Wind whipping through my hair (only sissies wore helmets back then), the asphalt disappearing under the wheels of the motorcycle.

Okay, okay, let's not call it a motorcycle. It was a bicycle with at least the concept of an engine on it. And to buzz up to the movie theatre or down to my best friend's house, it was just great.

Fast forward to this past year.

When gasoline prices began to hit the $3.00 for a gallon, the distance between us and the vaguest suggestion of civilized life (i.e. a store that sold something besides gasoline and highly caffeinated sodas) suddenly became to look costly.

About then I began to seriously consider going back to a motorcycle simply to save some money on cash. And I do admit, I like the idea of feeling the wind in my hair again... although I would wear a helmet each and every time I got on that bike.

Somehow, this is the only image that comes to mind.

And I'm not sure if its gonna work.

Monday, February 16, 2009


In the Greek version, Pandora opens a box that releases all the evil in the world, leaving only Hope behind.

My cat, Pandora, is hell-bent on reversing this myth.

Pandora was in a box of tiny kittens outside WalMart that a family were trying to find homes for. And they were all so precious and beautiful, it was impossible to resist.

However, I forgot one extremely important fact - anything you buy at WalMart is impossible to return.

Their 'customer service', if you apply the term loosely, seems to always have a drawn out line of people waiting in despair for the one clerk to refuse their return for an extended list of reasons:

- "It was purchased on a Tuesday; we can't take it"

- "You have to return this directly to the manufacturer in Egypt via registered certified mail that costs $12 per oz."

- "Your last name begins with a 'D', and today we can't accept returns from people whose last name begins with a 'D' "

(Sorry, got a little bit off track there - I've work at customer service at Target, and Target will take back ANYthing if you can show that you paid for it - you don't even have to have a receipt if you put it on a card of any sort - and I just don't like WalMart)

But I allowed my husband to talk me into taking one of kittens home. As we drove, he held this tiny black and white fur-ball literally in the palm of his hand.

My son came up with the name of Pandora, which sounded cute and appropriate at the time for this tiny girl.

Unfortunately, Pandora turned out to be a huge, dangerous BOY cat, the fact which we were blissfully ignorant of until I took her/him to the vet's to be neutered/fixed /spayed/whatever-the -politically-correct-name-is- today.

So I took in a girl kitty, and brought back a 'stale male' - didn't know they could do sex-change operations on cats, did you?

And I didn't realize how large he was until I took him into the vet's last year for something trivial and saw him next to other 'normal' sized cats - Pandora looks liked a medium sized cougar or a very small lion compared to them.

But Pandora has suddenly come up against resistance for the first time in his nine-plus years.

I am not letting him into my bedroom.

Since spending almost a year in San Diego sans cat, I finally realized that I am allergic to cats. So after washing all of my bedding, and keeping the bedroom day firmly shut, I breath much better at night now.

But it also means Pandora is unable to come into my room.

Battle-lines are being drawn.

He has taken to wandering around the area by my bedroom door, casually washing himself or streching out for a nap, looking for a moment when he can slip in unnoticed.

As I mentioned, he is a big cat, so he also tries laying against the door, batting at the doorknob, and when truly desperate, throws himself against it.

And when he does get in, does he go and hide under the bed? Steal into a corner so he won't be noticed?

No. This is Pandora we are taking about.

He curls up in royal splendor right in the middle of my bed so that when I finally find him, I will be able to bow down and worship him appropriately.

So the myth will be told differently from now on - all the evil will be back in the box/room with him, and Hope will be the one on the outside.

P.S. Read that title for this again - that's 'legend reversed'... reversed.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Americans rate themselves as better-than-average in just about everything.

We are taller, stronger, smarter and more intelligent than the average Joe. We own nicer cars, build better houses, have better fashion sense than most people. Our children are certainly brighter, quicker and healthier than the majority of the universe.

Also our grandchildren - except in in MY case, it is soo TRUE.

Do any of us think we are actually below average?

Have you ever thought, when the other driver on the freeway cuts you off changing lanes, "Wow, that guy is a such wonderful driver.! He seems to be in a hurry; I hope he gets there in time!"

Do we, when interrupted in the middle of a conversation with a friend, immediately say "Oh, please, go ahead and share your thoughts on this; you obviously have something important to add."

Well, can we say that withOUT dripping sarcasm?

Do we feel happy and light-hearted when the person ahead of us in the "Ten Items Or Less" line begins to unload 45 cases of Bud Lite? And when we finally get to the cashier, do we cheerfully comment, "That guy must be throwing a good party tonight!"

The answer, in care you are wondering, to all these questions is NO.

Why? Because our time/line position/speech/etc. is MORE IMPORTANT than the other person. Regardless! What we are saying is has greater value, where we are going is THE place, our time is incredibly valuable and we don't have an INSTANT to spare.

So letting you in ahead of me, slowing down so you can get to that traffic light first, allowing you to run off with the conversation... well, we just don't do it very often.

Because that would mean... well, maybe it is admitting that what WE are doing is... geeze... not the most important thing in the universe.

And isn't that called, er, humility?

I'm going to try to remember this next time I'm driving into town, or standing in line at the pharmacy, or talking to someone in the hallway at church.

Hope it helps.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


People always seem to be impressed with horses. They weigh up to half a ton, but can be guided by a child. A horse could easily overcome you and yet will respond to a human's correctly placed finger. They move with such grace and speed and still allow us to channel that energy into our recreational pursuits.

And I don't know why, but people unfamiliar with horses always seem to be awed by the fact that horses CAN sleep while standing up.

I am emphasizing that they can sleep that way, since the fastest reaction to any danger would be from a standing position.
Only if a horse feels comfortable, protected, in a stable environment (pun intended) and safe, he will lay down to sleep.

But it is not an extremely smooth, lithe movement on their part, either laying down or getting back up. Which is probably the main reason they don't like to be caught in the act.

Which leads me to today's post.

I have known my horse since he was just over a year, and have owned him since he was 18 months old. I have spoiled him silly, but also make certain he knows who is boss (i.e. ME). And he will do what I ask when I ask it.

My most important training device is, at best, a novel one - I scratch his stomach.

Najale (my horse) simply LOVES to have his stomach scratched, and will do almost ANYthing I ask if he knows I'm gonna rub his belly. I discovered this by sheer accident, and have capitalized on it every since.

So when I find Najale laying down in the pasture, I need to approach him slowly and cautiously, murmuring with a softened tone so he knows it's me. But he will remain on the ground and let me walk right up to him.

Because I might, I just might, scratch his belly.

And for this great favor, for even the remotest possibility of at least a RUB somewhere, this 900+ lb. horse, 16.2 hands high, of majestic breeding and bearing, will get on his back like a puppy for me.

I try not to giggle too loud, just to keep a sliver of his dignity intact. But normally, when I get back to the house, I HOWL for several minutes with sheer delight at the sight of this powerful, beautiful animal wiggling in the dirt just for a rub on his belly.
So please, don't let him know.

Friday, February 13, 2009


I love taking my dog, Murray, on walks. He grabs the nearest tennis ball (or the Frisbee, but only when he can't find a ball), lays it obediently before my path, and waits, almost shaking in anticipation, for me to kick it. He then bounds after it, and brings it back as fast as he can.

Delilah, on the other paw, must be on a leash all times she is outside. Greyhounds have only two speeds - racingfastblurofdogpassingby, and couchpotatoe. And they have one direction - straight ahead. No reverse available on these models.

When I take them both on a walk, however, they are completely unified on one particular thing - a bush, tree, tumbleweed, cactus... anything where another animal has urinated.

I used to think of dogs sniffing at each other's private parts as just disgusting, and would get impatient with my own dog sticking his nose literally up my ass.

But today, a huge light bulb went off over my head.

It's a dogs' blog.

"Wow, Ruckus met this little sweet bitch, and he thinks this may be the one! And Ragman had to have surgery - man, he already lost his nuts, how much else can they take from this poor guy?"

"Well, over here Hank says he almost caught two illegals last night; Border Patrol was just ahead of him. Geronimo has a crush on that little poodle, and WOW, it sounds like... oh, forget that, it's just a rabbit's pee."

We have gossip via the internet - canines have it through pee.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


The adage "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" has been proven wrong every single day by the long-term relationship between my husband and myself.

We have been married for over thirty years now, and while I am from Los Angeles, Wilt is from somewhere beyond the galaxy of Andromeda.

We are talking about places that are BILLIONS and BILLIONS of light-years apart. Forget this neighboring planets thing.

We agreed on three things when we got married in 1978, and after thirty years together, we now agree on only two things (and no, they are not even the same as the original three). Our votes routinely cancel each other out, we go see movies separately, he watches TV in his room and I watch TV in the family room. Our orders at any restaurant are different; in fact, we usually don't like the same restaurants.

For these same thirty years, I have taken 4,233,987,103 deep breathes and repeated to myself, "You can't change anyone but yourself. You can't change anyone but yourself" 4,233,987,103 times.

Today I have a bit of an epiphany about this mantra that I have used for so long.

Somehow with the idea of "You can't change anyone", my freaky co-dependent mind silently (but STRONGLY) adds on "but if you can't change them, there is obviously some things that you can do, so the challenge is to find what you need to change or you need to change FOR them...

... and eventually it will all become right just like you want it."

It's pretty bad when you reach my age (53) and are just beginning to recognize that all those voices in your head are, really, just voices in your head.

They are not leading me onto a greater truth; they are misguiding me, and they are going to keep reminding me of failures, of disappointments, of past faults.

While camouflaged as 'learning from past mistakes,' 'keeping your guard up' and 'just keep on keeping on', they are making you make long, elaborate detours and keep you from recognizing a fundamental truth:


Wait a minute, didn't you just said that was wrong?

Nope - it's only wrong when those co-dependent voices add on the rest. When I start accepting the reality, the fact that other people (including my obviously extraterrestrial husband) are THE WAY THEY ARE, I can deal better with acceptance, with forgiveness, with understanding.

And, as I keep learning and relearning and relearning, this is the way to peace.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I am feeling particularly sympathetic towards Heavenly Father this week.

That sounds pretty arrogant, doesn't it?

But God has children, and he has to deal with a whole lot more than I have. He gave them all a pretty good game plan.... if they would just shut up and FOLLOW it like good kids.

But we think, oh, yeah, we know better, and we definitely know more than God way up in heaven, so we'll just keep advising Him to do things the way that we want it.

When it's put that way, I feel a little bit silly about some of my prayers. And now that I have an offspring who acts that way towards me, and as always, it is much easier to recognize it when someone else is doing it.

Enlightenment comes when you accept God's will as your own. I've got a long, long way to go down that path, but being a parent can sometimes give you an advantage in perspective.


What I am missing already:
- Kate laughing
- Chasing Colin
- Late- night chats with Harmony
- The Prius
- Hearing Blake practice the guitar
- Incredible high-speed Internet
- The garbage disposal

What I am appreciating at home:
- Murray's laughing face
- Pandora very casually asking to be petted
- Najale knocking me over so he can rub his ear
- The computer already being set up for all my favorite sites
- My own bed

I'm just a little bit homesick for Hawaii.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I am leaving Hawaii early tomorrow morning and am being forced to deal with many conflicting emotions. I will leave it to you, dear reader, to determine which category each of the following should be placed in:

- I am leaving the company of the two most intelligent, beautiful and mischief-making children in the world.
- The aforementioned children have caused my normal blood pressure reading of 118/65 to run regularly to 190/133.

- I am leaving the island of Oahu, the community of Ewa Beach, and community of Honolulu.
- I am leaving humid temperatures than normally run around 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
- I am returning to a winter of an arid 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and down in the 20's at night.

- I am leaving the pristine island beaches of Ko'olina just a 20 minute drive from my daughter's house.
- I have actually been to the pristine island beaches of Ko'olina just once in the month I've been here.

- I leave well educated in the pluses of membership with Costco, especially when living in an incredible expensive environment such as Oahu.
- I am returning to a locale where the nearest Costco is over two hours away in Tucson.

- I am leaving Wow Wow Wuggzy, Crash Van de Coupe, Blues Clues, and 23 repetitions of Itsby Bitsy Spider every evening.
- I am leaving diapers. In particular, dirty diapers.

- I am leaving having a DVR to record any show I miss, tune into late or just don't have time to watch right then.
- I am leaving my daughter, who is my favorite person to watch "The Office", "Desperate Housewives", "Project Runway"... in fact, just about any television show with.

- I am leaving huge, front-loading brand-new washer & dryer mounted on the accompanying albeit expensive pedestal so it is a reasonable height for an adult to load and unload, which is normally loaded with five extra large white bath towel, two sets of children's pajamas, three pairs of jeans, fourteen socks that have no match and keep getting thrown into the washer in the vain hope that somehow the missing socks will materialize from the thin air they have been hiding in for the past two weeks.
- I am returning to a huge, front-load washer which is not on a pedestal, and a regular old dryer which is normally loaded with my latest pair of filthy jeans, 13 dirty white socks, and a hand towel that was used to mop up all the water which Delilah spills on the floor every time she gets a drink.

- I am leaving a household which literally stops if a certain young lady does not have her pink and brown polka-dotted flannel blanket when it's time for her to go to bed.
- I am leaving a bed right next to my grandson's bed which, if I go to bed any later than his 8 p.m. bedtime, is normally occupied by my grandson, forcing me to literally roll him over three times to get him back on his bed.
- I am returning to a bed which is for me alone, and has my required five pillows (head, 2 for my shoulders, knees and to brace my back).

- I am leaving my daughter who still had six stitches in her right shoulder and is still in pain.
- I am leaving limited access to the Internet.
- I am leaving driving my grandson to and from kindergarten.
- I am leaving having a grocery store, drug store, Starbucks, Subway and TCBY within five minutes of the house.

I am trying to focus on the positive reasons to leave and go back home - and I am having trouble with it.


I am realizing how much the phases of the moon affect me when I am home.

No, no, not in that way, you silly - my uterus has been gone for several years now, and believe me, I do not miss it in any way, shape or form.

But now I live a ways outside of civilization. The smallest area that you can build a house on is four acres, so even your next-door neighbor isn't very close.

There are no streetlights... NONE. No lights at intersections or even on the main highway. Houses are supposed to have only 'shaded' lights, ones that are directed only towards the ground and not emitting 'light pollution' - a term I used to view as a sissy word that tree-hugged used until I moved out in the country.

Not any longer. I will fight to keep my night sky and the thousands upon thousands of stars I can see at night. Growing up in the peak smog years of L.A. County, I had no idea of why the Milky Way was called that - something to do with the candy bar?

The moon dictates some of my daily activities when I am at home. My husband goes to bed right around 7 p.m. Well, no, he doesn't actually go to bed, he takes his sleeping pills around 7, and I have forbidden him to come OUT of his bedroom once he has taken them. Because then he gets relaxed, and then chatty, and then snacky (if there is such a word), and you can't him to go back to bed.

I've always been a night owl, so around 11:30 p.m. each night, I take both dogs, a bag of carrots and go outside to say goodnight to Najale nd Sally. The dogs get their business done before bed, the horses enjoy their treats, and I get to look at the sky.

So if the moon is at all in the night sky, I can walk out without any artificial light all the way to the corral. Even just a sliver of moon is enough. But if it's already set or has yet or has yet to rise, I either trust my instincts, sense of direction and rely on just the starlight - or take a flashlight with me.

Having a flashlight is fun, however. You know how you can get a cat to chase the light from a small pen light? My dog will do that with any sort of light, even a big floodlights, and never seems to tire of it.

But when the moon is out as it is tonight.... It's beautiful. But right now I am surrounded by houses, streetlights, driveway lights, car lights....

I kinda wanna get home and see it from my own back yard.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Inspiration from a neat blog,, prompts my daily 'writing assignment' on my other blog. But my response to yesterday's "What is your greatest source of pride?" is a little bit more complicated, so I am going to expand on it here.

Pride, according to Encarta dictionary, is 1) satisfaction with self, 2) proper sense of own value, and 3) feeling of superiority.

And the number of the day today is . . . . number three!

I'm amazed how many times I find myself bragging. When I am pointing out how stupid/ uneducated/ boring someone else is, I am boasting indirectly about how I am not as stupid/ uneducated/ boring as they are since I obviously can see it in them.

An old adage is what bothers us most in other people's behavior is what, consciously or unconsciously, we also hate in ourselves. For example, if someone is talking about you behind your back, you may begin talking about them behind their back - if you feel someone has snubbed you, you will snub them - etc. etc. etc.

So we don't prove we are better, we just stoop to their level to get back at them.

I used to brag insistently about my horse. And I do adore him, and take a great deal of joy in his simple existence and the companionship we share.

But suddenly I realized that when I am talking about Najale to people outside of my family they are hearing and feeling "Wow, I have a horse, and you don't."

I am fond of pointing out that you cannot control anyone else's reactions or emotions, only your own. And I definitely do NOT want other people to feel any sort of "na na na na" (is there any way to write this out musically so you know what tune I am referring to?).

But people do feel this. And while I cannot control or change this, I do not have to keep dropping Najale's name and/or his species into casual conversation with the grocery store cashier and people at church. I do not have to refer to him when I am with anyone who MIGHT be offended or feel I am bragging or just a little tiny person with no emotional control at ALL.

At least for this morning.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Los Angeles was not designed with public transportation in mind. In the age of cheap gasoline and cars, Los Angeles grew up wide-spread orange groves, scenic mountain and beach views and always the dream of the future right on the horizon.

So public transportation, at least in the 60's, was underfunded and unwelcome. I do remember benches at bus stops, but they always seemed to have a drunk sleeping on them or desperately poor Mexicans waiting for something.

An automobile was not a luxury by any means but a simple necessity. The cars of my childhood were long, wide and always very, very clean. Seat belts were there, but I can't recall ever using them. Air conditioning was rolling the windows all the way down and driving fast.

The Pasadena freeway, the first real freeway in L.A., was designed at a time when 35 mph was speedy. So on-ramps were non-existent, multiple curves were not considered hazardous, and speed was king (again, with 40 mph pushing the limit).

I vaguely recall my dad teaching me to use a stick-shift in the huge parking areas of Santa Anita Racetrack, and I know I could ride my brother's motorcycle when I was 12. Yes, 16 was the legal driving age, but since I was already 5'10" by 13, no one even thought to question me about minor things such as a license.

So when my dad was teaching from the home studio, I was free to take the keys and just go. It is amazing that I didn't get in more trouble than I did - no one ever kept track of where I was.

But to get a license, you did have to take the driver’s education class in high school. And Mr. Penn was the instructor.

Back then I still had a complete brain, so I could doze through the classes and still pass the exams. The actual on-the-street driving was only interesting when one of the other students got to drive. Her first time behind the wheel, my friend, Robin Yamamoto, literally floored the gas pedal to get the car moving. And others would wander all over the left and right sides of the road, although I only recall jumping the curb once.

Even then, I could only assume that any teacher got some form of hazardous duty pay for classes such as this.

But Mr. Penn always let me drive last, drop off all the other students' at their homes, and then drive myself home while he graded papers. And then I would jump out, and more often than not, hop right into one of my dad's cars and drive myself to my friend Annette's or McDonalds.

Guardian angels of naive underage drivers, thank you again for all your protection. And allow me to call on you, especially when my granddaughter turns 12.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been, well, about 38 years since I last attended confession - one of my best friends in fourth and fifth grade was Catholic. And I just loved all the candles, and the Mass - the Latin was so pretty, this was back when Mass was just in Latin, not in English...

Oh... wait, what? Oh, my confession. Well, okay, this it.

Driver’s education was, for me, an exercise in pure boredom. I had been driving for several years already, and while a few of the legalities were new to me (why is passing on the right illegal when sometimes it's the only way to get around an idiot driver?), most of it was fairly old hat.

Oh, no, that's not my sin.

Somehow the one rule that amazed, stunned and remained with me was FLASHING RED LIGHTS ON A SCHOOL BUS. I never rode a school bus actually to school, just for field trips. And growing up, I never once remember seeing a bus have the whole flashing red lights thing going on.

But where I live now, there is only one two-lane highway connecting Sierra Vista with Palominas, Hereford and Bisbee. So I see school buses with red flashing lights ALL THE TIME.

And traffic obediently slows down, stops, and patiently waits until the flashing red lights are turned off and the school begins to drive again.

But today. Oh, today, Father, I have sinned.

I'm in Hawaii, which exists on an entirely difference universe of aloha shirts for business wear, muumuus for church wear, leis for any reason at all, and people always riding in the back of pickup trucks.

And generally you can spot the Mainland drivers anywhere - they are the ones flying through, rapidly changing lanes, hitting all the open spots and then just as rapidly slamming on their brakes when everything on the highways comes to an abrupt halt.

Otherwise, most local drivers are doing the speed limit; they know they'll get where they are going, so why rush to get there early?
Yes, Father, I'm getting to that.
But as I pull out of the local shopping area (everything to sustain life; a grocery store, a pharmacy, ice cream, Starbucks, dry cleaning and Blockbuster) onto the main thoroughfare, there is a bus WITH RED FLASHING LIGHTS ON.

Without even any conscience thought, I hit my brakes and come to a complete stop.

Now, granted, this thoroughfare is 'divided', but this school bus is definitely on MY side, it has SCHOOL CHILDREN getting off of it, and THE RED FLASHING LIGHTS ARE ON.

But I am the only car stopping. Everyone else is just cruising by, most about forty miles over the speed limit.

And Father, I let myself be swayed by the dark side of the force, and I DROVE BY THE BUS WITH THE RED FLASHING LIGHTS ON.

What should my penance be? Serve as a school crossing guard for the rest of my life? Go into epileptic spasms every time I see a red flashing light?

Wait a minute, you mean I have to TO DRIVE A SCHOOL BUS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE?!?

Forget it, Father. Just send me straight to hell. That'll be easier.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


My daughter has a mailbox. A real one.

Out on her curb. Has the little red flag and everything.

And I thought they were illegal now.

When I was in college (yes, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth), the apartment complexes had those skinny envelope boxes that opened with an annoyingly small key. I quickly found out that (in my complex, at least) my key would also open every third mailbox, but that's another story for another time.

In Germany, our mail came through the American Field Office - sometimes in three days - most often three months - one letter was actually over a year late. But it came into Germany in Heidelberg, routed through our embassy at Koln, where the British picked it up for us and dropped it off at the office where my husband worked.

So no mailboxes at all.

Since then, most places we've lived have a ''panel' of mailboxes, making it less trouble for the mail deliverer. Saving time and gas, I guess. And there are four largish boxes when they can lock up any boxes delivered, and then leave the key for that in your mailbox.

Where I live now, that makes sense. I mean, our roads are bad ("how bad are they, Hope?") they are bad enough that the local newspaper (well, local by 18 miles) refuses to deliver out here.

Our nest of mailboxes alone probably cover 10 square miles. Yes, not acres - heck, I live on 8, but MILES.

No one ever explained to me, growing up, that mailboxes were not your own. We left notes for other people, that's how you got Tupperware invitations out, birthday cards for someone local... then someone told me it's a federal CRIME to put ANYthing in a mailbox.

So either way I'm looking at some serious time in the federal pen, aren't I?