Wednesday, January 31, 2007


You know how you apply perfume or cologne and think how strong it is? I do this and I know that the smell will grow faint in time, to where only I can "really" smell it. Then I'll get the compliment from somebody about my perfume. Or the question asking what I am wearing. Of course this brings up the question of whether I am wearing too much or not. I put it on this morning and even I can barely smell it after a couple of hours.

Today at lunch, the waitress came over and asked which of us (three) were wearing the delicious smelling perfume. She literally smelled all of our necks and then couldn't figure out who was omitting the scent. She tried two other tables full of women, finally said it was stronger at out table. I told my friends jokingly, it was me, to which one replied, "It probably is, you always smell good." Again, I wonder if I am over doing it and nobody has told me. I know how awful it is to be around somebody who is overwhelming the air we breath with their scent. I don't want to be that person. On the other hand, I am a lot like the waitress when I smell something I love. I want the name and I cannot wait to wear it.

Well, it turned out to be me. She asked to smell my wrist and that was the scent she had to know the name of. She came from across the room and asked which of us smelled so good. That meant it had to be strong right? Not good, especially when people are trying to taste their food and not my perfume!

We did have a nice lunch. One friend, P, had her birthday the first part of December. We have tried to get together for her birthday lunch since then. Our other friend A and I gave P her birthday gifts over the holidays, but P refused to open them until her birthday lunch. She said otherwise we wouldn't have gotten together and she is probably right. I told her when she opened her gift that I had forgotten what I gave her. Plus, she brought her gifts to open. It was pretty funny.

It was a different sight to see so many people with sweaters and scarves on coming in and get a table near the fire at the restaurant. We have had some cold weather this winter with less than a couple inches of rain, until last night. We got about an inch. Still, we are way behind where we should be. Every storm seems to stop north of LA county and we are south of LA. Holding out hope for some more precipitation before winter goes away. I have been wanting sweater weather and it is truly here for us Californians. Most would laugh at this being only 52 degrees. But, that's okay, it was such a beautiful cold day. At one point during lunch I asked my friends to look out a window at the picturesque view. Relentless fall colored leaves still hanging on the trees, wet from the rain, with a mix of dark clouds and blue sky in the background. So striking. It is lovely to stop and smell the roses, but it is breathtaking to gaze at such beauty and remind ourselves how lucky we are to live where we do.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Spell check

So, I was writing a note the to the PE couch so Katharine didn't have to run the mile on Friday. She stubbed her toe and then reopened the injury with the corner of a door...Ouch.

I write the note and immediately question the spelling of one word that I wrote. No spell check in sight, I go to the computer and click dictionary. Check the word and it is correct, but while I am there, I decide to check a couple more just in case. Second guessing my spelling is something I rarely did before spell check, because I have always been a good speller and had confidence.

I have never gotten into using speed dial due to the trap I am now in with spelling. I wanted to remember the numbers and I was proud of the quantity of numbers I could store in my brain, for most of my life for some numbers. I didn't want to lose the ability by using speed dial.

Here I am, do I stop using spell check so I remember how words are spelled and make myself think? I actually do the best I can with spelling still and think I do a pretty good job as I always have, but with that little click of the button so easily accessible, I will double check my spelling every time. Except when I am handwriting something.

Now calculators are a completely different story. I would die without one of those! They have made doing math by hand, obsolete. Sad really, but then, I never thought I would need all the crap I learned in high school!

Sunday, January 14, 2007


When I was a girl we spent two weeks of our summer vacation going to and from Oklahoma. The drive there was not so bad. Two of my brothers, my parents and I, would be excited to get in the car and drive away from Longworth Ave. We would take two days to reach our destination. It was always sweltering and we often had a broken a/c in the car, one year after the next. We would stop at a motel, always Best Western's with a pool. We stayed in that pool until we were literally dragged out. My father would get us up at 2am or 3am to hit the road. We were used to this kind of behavior, because it was a normal thing for him to do when we were going fishing or if it was Christmas morning and we out slept him...In this case, it was more to do with the heat. We drove all day and about 3pm we got to stop at another motel with a pool. Heading to Oklahoma or heading back to Longworth Ave., this was the routine.

Our destination was Bob's house. Really a farm or ranch. Mostly horses raised and hay grown. We called Bob, Uncle Bob. He was not our uncle, he was my dad's first cousin. All my life, he was my second cousin. His kids were my third cousins, and so on. At least until I met David and he told me that Bob was really my first cousin once removed. UGH...I will never get that. This really threw a wrench in things because it seemed half of Oklahoma and I were related. My father had a huge family. His grandparents had huge families. You get the picture.

When my dad's mother died, when he was five, he was left with his siblings to be raised by his father. My father was the youngest of the lot. Around the time his mother died he lost a sister as well, both of them to TB. My grandfather's mother in law swooped down and tried to get them all in the car so she could take them to an orphanage. My grandfather didn't let that happen. It was tough, there are hundreds of stories that I would love to tell you some time, but for now, I will just tell you of about my dad and Bob.

Bob's mother was the worlds best cook according to the masses. Aunt Dewey and her sisters were instrumental in helping feed my father and his siblings and keeping them together. My dad and Bob were the same age and like brothers. They all lived very close by each other. Bob was always there for my dad, not matter what trouble he got in. And he got in plenty. For the longest time, being cute and the youngest got him out of a lot of situations, I have been told. In later years, it was Bob who helped get him out of scrapes.

Years later, it was no wonder that Bob's would be the top spot for our yearly vacations. We would arrive to the warmest of welcomes and sun tea. Bob's wife Jeri was the second best cook in the world from what I was told. At least until Aunt Dewey died and Jeri was given the tiara. Jeri and Bob married very young. Around 15 I believe Jeri was, when they wed. She learned everything she knew from her mama and from mama Dewey. She was a good match for Bob, who pretended to be all gruff and grumpy much of the time. He wasn't though. He was loving and he listened.

Bob and Jeri had a big spread. Ponds where we could fish was just icing on the cake. We could go on the horses with help because we were not used to horses from where we came from, but I was used to fishing. We would catch plenty of fish and then Jeri would fry them up along side fried potatoes and biscuits, always from scratch. Other days it was okra we would cook up. Fried okra. I remember picking it from their garden and it tasted better than ever.

Bob would sit on the porch and tell us stories. He was quick witted and dry, with a quiet and unsuspecting delivery. With that Oklahoman twang to boot. He could bring us to tears from laughing so hard. He told me I would get warts from handling the frogs that came out every night. It slowed me down, but didn't deter me from catching the little critters with my brothers and cousins. One time we were fishing on Lake Texoma or actually in a river near there. I remember him telling his night crawler to get on the hook. I did the same thing. I said, "Get on the hook, you little bastard." I got spanked and Bob told my father that I was just copying him. Still, I was told not to use that word. We loved going back there and seeing Bob when were young. Sometimes we would see other relatives near Bob and other times we would go to a lake and have family reunions while camping.

Years later, after my father died, we went to Bob's a couple of times. I took my family and my brothers went too. Then my mother died and again we went to Bob and Jeri's, only this time we brought the ashes of both my folks with us. We were getting ready for our kids to spread the ashes and another cousin, Bob's age, and his wife were there. They are very religious and were appalled by what we were doing. I told Bob I felt uncomfortable and he said, "Well, Nancy, by God if they don't like it, they can leave!" He knew that it was my father's desire to have his ashes spread around Bob and Jeri's pond. We then let the kids spread the ashes of my folks around the pond. It was very memorable.

We went back to visit and spent a lot of time swatting flies and drinking beer. It was a vacation after all. It was way too hot to fish. Bob would sit with us and share stories about growing up with my dad, among other things. The music he heard would make him tear up at times. My father and his whole family were musicians and Bob's were not, but they were around the constant music and he had many fond memories. My youngest brother plays and my other two brothers like to sing and that is what we did.

There was a very destructive tornado very near Bob's one night. It leveled a whole town. Bob, around 70, got on one of his tractors and drove over there and dove right in, helping move debris from the roads so emergency vehicles could get through. He spent days and days helping. He also did something he had never done in all his years of living on the property. He dug a hole in the ground and put a railway car in there. It was well stocked and he was ready for the next tornado that came through. Helping at the nearby town finally convinced him of the damage tornadoes cause.

When my father found out he had cancer and only a couple months to live, he put my folks home on the market and sold it. He had originally wanted to move to Oklahoma, but my mother wouldn't move that far from us. She was okay with Bakersfield which is about an hour and a half north of LA, or two hours depending on who's driving. Anyhow, they sold the house and Bob and his brother Pete came from OK with a horse trailer and filled it up with everything my folks owned and off to Oklahoma they went. Bob and Jeri hosted my parents (did I mention my mother had advanced Alzheimer's at the time?) until one day Jeri called me and told me my dad needed to come back here and go to a hospital. Bob came out for the funeral and said he would never come back to California again. No need. We could go see him. I had never seen him so sad.

About two years ago, their youngest son died. Jeri died a month later. Bob and Jeri had put up a barrel racing arena on their property for the whole town to use. Jeri, who was in her seventies, still barrel raced weekly. She was doing it one night and her horse had a heart attack and fell on her, killing her instantly. Bob knew she was gone. He sat down on the horse and lit a cigarette. Jeri died doing what she loved.

Jeri always took care of Bob. After she died he didn't use her kitchen once. A few months ago, my youngest brother went to stay with Bob for a while and did his best to cook Jeri's food. Bob was the happiest he had been since Jeri died. Everybody was happy to see him come alive again. This went on for weeks and my brother and Bob adored spending time together. It was probably a lot like it was when my dad was at his side when they were young. It was good for Bob. My brother moved up to Kansas to live near my other brother and left Bob. It was time, Bob never used that kitchen again though. Not long after my brother left, some other cousins came to stay with him while having their home renovated. This was in November, they are still there. Still, the kitchen remains unused.

Friday night there was a voice on my machine, I hadn't heard in years. It was my dad and Bob's cousin Ruth from Bakersfield. She and her husband were a God send to my parents. They were beyond helpful and loving. Anyhow, I heard her voice and knew something was terribly wrong, but who else in Bakersfield was I close to anymore? (Her brother and family are the one's still at Bob's) She told me that Bob had passed away and had not been feeling well, but refused to go to the doctor. His daughter finally came to over to force him to go to the hospital. He had a heart attack and died in ICU. As devastating as this news was to me, after a really good cry, I realized he is together again with his beloved Jeri and my dad. At least I hope so. I will miss Bob very much and am grateful that he was in my life.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


I like the sound of 2007. I think it will be a good year. So far what I remember most is that we have had very little rain and every couple of days we have cold Santa Ana winds! Boring. I want winter. Our lower yard is a good twenty five feet from our upper deck. We had winds so crazy last week that one of the umbrellas went from the top deck to the lower yard like an arrow. It is still upside down in the grass down below. I did put the other two up a couple days ago, but last night, it felt like they were going to take flight again. Down they came. This time they are laying down. Last week when the umbrella that went to the yard below, it was also down, however not laying down. I am not sure how much time one can get for using an umbrella for a weapon, but I don't want to know. And knowing how I feel about creepy neighbor guy would not help my case!

Isn't is amazing how we think our houses are cluttered and then we take out the tree and decorations and it looks huge? I love that! I had to get the tree out two days after Christmas because it was so dry. In fact I got all the decorations and the tree out of the house, vacuumed too and not one child came upstairs. Zoe was sad to see the tree gone. Katharine was a bit sad too. I just wondered if anybody would notice. We gave away two cats to a place that keeps them til they are adopted, years ago. The kids didn't notice for weeks.

I cut off the top part of the tree and stuck it in green waste and the bottom went to the city where they have huge bins. We let them take the stand off the bottom. I am telling you, this was one of the prettiest trees we have had in years. Of course, it was real and the past five or so years we have used the fake one. But the fake trees are easier. No needles all over the place. No fire worries from the dry tree. Still, I think I would do it again. We used colored icicle lights that were on the house last year, for the tree. It was the best kept secret in town. There are three times the number of lights as a regular strand and the pieces that come down as icicles are great because you may push them into the middle of the tree. The results were stunning and gorgeous. So much color. I think I would even put it on a fake tree if I go that route next year. Seriously, next year, remember to use icicle lights for your tree, you will be pleased.

School's back in session tomorrow. The girls are sad, of course. Vacation went fast. As I told them, they only have seven or so weeks before they get another week off for ski week. Then they get a week for spring break and then it's June. Vacation did go fast though. David worked though. He works so hard. He did get some time off though.

I am not doing the resolution thing again. I don't play that game. I did quit smoking last year and it has been almost 11 months. I didn't resolve to do it. It was something I had to be ready to do and I did it. Period. Now I would like to lose weight this year, but I am not making a resolution to do so. I think instead of being an incentive, it is a hindrance and puts too much pressure on me if I don't make it. Better to do things when I can, if I feel I can. No need to beat myself up about it by starting a perfectly good year with a list of things to do. I know what's on the list already, no need to publicize it!

Happy 2007!