thinking of dogs and guilt and grief while flying above it all.

Janet Bernson 
Here I sit, comfortably in the LAX Admirals Club lounge, waiting for the carbon-definitely- not-neutral jet to take me on the first leg of my August journey. I have left a trio of unhappy dogs, my canine children, in the capable hands of roomies. My eldest dog, Dot, now 17 and an outright miracle (so sayeth my vet) proving the benefits of homemade cuisine for longevity, is depressed. This morning she refused to walk with me and her larger siblings, lying miffed upon her cushion. I considered the past year, actually one year ago when her litter mate brother, Dash, developed an awful infection from which he succumbed, all whilst I was traveling. This was especially difficult since he passed close to the two year anniversary of my beloved Max’s departure from our plane of existence. Grief is mostly not fun, unless your are prone to masochism, which I am not.

Needless to say, but say it I will, Dot might decide to travel to the doggie great beyond this time, though I am probably only channeling Greta Guilt Tripper who is saying ” yeah, go ahead and leave your poor frail aged dog while you jetset yourself hither and yon!” To which I say “Fa! She will survive my absence….this time.” I hope I am right and Greta sucks eggs.
Husky – Buck and Chocolate Lab Mocha spent the past week tailing me like private eyes on the prowl for adulterous wives. Buck occupied my morning by alternating his position between my legs with a carefully placed paw on my right foot and the sofa and between me and the kitchen cabinets. Mocha lay behind me or on me… Though temporarily captured by conniving canines I managed to grab the head of each and tell them in pictures (Hey I can do that) “I’ll be back in14 days! You’re going to be fine. There are wonderful surrogate mommies, Klaudia, Suzi, Lili and Suzy there to make your life easy while I am gone. I love you.” All the while shedding a few tears, wiping my wet face in their fur as I hugged each one, including Dot who finally came to cuddle. Any thoughts of taking a longer trip are cast aside, I owe my life and gratitude to these gentle creatures who are my “pack”. They saved me and what sanity I had left when Max departed.
Travel. It’s always a bit of a surprise how no matter how much time I’ve had to prepare for a trip, I still find myself madly working to the last minute to complete projects or tidy up. This time was no exception. I had a list longer than both of my arms, each item I dutifully checked and lined thru as completed. There was the mundane: putting toiletries in bags, the tedious: preparing and freezing 28 days of doggie meals, and the more complicated, to figuring out why my i cal was not adjusting to time zones. In between all of this I managed to repeatedly pat and kiss all my dogs’ heads, and trip over Mocha at least ten times. It was the night before departure when I had slashed thru 95% of the scroll of tasks by 10pm, took a shower because I was stinky, (Did anyone mention it was ridiculously hotter than fuck in LA?) then rolled my suitcase to the front door.  
Oh yes, and before hitting the sack I did a load of wash and woke to dry it at 5am so I could fold and put it away before I left. If you think I’m somewhat retentive in the anal sort of way, I believe I’m not. I do, however, like to return to an clear desk, clean hamper & house, and so I washed and dried, late and early respectively. Okay I suppose I am a little bit, retentive.
And now I find myself standing in line, waiting to board. I glance around and notice all the people glued to their cell/mobile/handy phones. What did we do before them? In airports we would “chat” with other passengers, read actual books, play games (solitaire with real decks of cards that were the size of today’s cellphones), stand in line for the pay phone and nap.

Admittedly, I, too, am looking at my phone here and there, sending a text to my roommates who have agreed to look after my hounds in my absence. It’s a big thing leaving my cherished furry pals in the care of those unrelated. I pause to reflect how I was when my kids (now in their thirties) were young and I had to travel for work, that old yucky feeling washes over me… anxiety. Blah!

Time flies, and so do I. I have spent three plus days in the warm arms of my family (lovely), the soft cuddles of grandson Levi and grand dogs (sweet) and the oven-like temperature of Austin, Texas (barely tolerable). I have had a great time.

I am now, once again up in the air, enroute to Chicago (2 hour layover), before heading to London, jolly ole England, and 2 plus days of hanging out with friends. 

Texts from home have informed me my pups are in tender caring hands. I am relieved knowing this, and thankful for so many things, like my life in general. To be continued.

Refining the Art of Waiting Creatively

Here I am, patiently sitting in the One World Lounge at Frankfurt International Airport, waiting until my flight back to the states is called. I have some time….at least an hour or two and will use them to reflect about the art of using time as it passes.

My mother used to say, repeatedly, I was in a hurry from the time I was born, that I must’ve been born with no patience. I often wondered if it was she who had no patience, specifically with me, but that’s another story, one which might be told, at a later date. Anyway…Somewhere along the line…maybe early on, I, as children often do, began to believe her. Was it my hyperactive imagination that rushed ahead of my body or the minds and expectations of others that couldn’t handle my exuberance, like my teachers and parents? It really is not important except, I have been learning to refine my enthusiasm to blend well with my own concept of time. Other people will just have to deal with their own sense of impatience about me or anyone/thing in their lives.

Somehow through the years, in whatever line I have stood, and for whatever purpose I have waited, I have never been bored nor, in actual fact, particularly impatient. Instead I have carefully observed my surroundings and any people in my vicinity, using the moments to led creative expression to raise its powerful head. Plus, I’ve never been accused of being shy, so I often find ways to interact, to breach the awkward silence of elevators, beginning conversations with remarks about the Muzak or even sing a song about elevators themselves. I will admit I have, from time to time, been in a hurry and found myself stuck behind someone counting pennies to a financially and mathematically challenged cashier. This is where my learning to find the humor in situations beyond my control and take slow deep breaths has come in handy.

Before I got here today, I was in one line to pay my hotel bill, then stood in line to take the shuttle bus from terminal 1 to terminal 2, behind people to go through pre-security interview, then one to get my boarding pass. I then took a short walk and an escalator followed by an extended queue to pass in front of federal police but first I was behind a nervous little man whose ID was questioned for a long period all while I observed many fellow passengers zip by on either side without a hitch…I changed lanes as soon as I could, had my passport stamped and sashayed down a long hallway after which I stood ….in line at the duty free shop to purchase a package of gummy bears, then walked some more until I reached this lounge, where I stood in my most recent line to get in. All through the mini periods of waiting I remained calm, observant and even joy filled. Each of these periods of waiting were for me a form of meditation…at least that’s the line I’m giving, if you choose to wait in it.

This posh club? I have a cushy seat here, with tasty open-faced finger sandwiches…no not those things protruding from my hands, even if at times, they can be tasty…especially to my doggies. These are made of smallish pieces of bread and assorted cheeses…Brie, mozzarella, Camembert, Gouda …what no Stilton? With slices of cucumber, or tomato or olive. There is a cappuccino machine that looks like it belongs in a Starbucks and a full bar…the contents, all of which is gratis. Here I am reminded it pays to use my credit card that gives me miles…and finger sandwiches.

And still I wait. Often, when I begin to meditate, I will rush to quiet my most imaginative mind, which of course is counterproductive … And countering anything in meditation is, defeating the purpose. And so I breathe, deeply until my breath dissolves my thoughts, before I know it I am diving into the unknown reaches of my being. The rush to get “there” simply vanishes in the process of my being “here”. Who would’ve thought the “impatience” of my youth would’ve evolved into little Zenish me. Funny, I don’t look it.

It is 6pm in Philadelphia and I have made the long trip across The Atlantic. I stood in … A line to deplane, a short line through US customs, walked a good airport mile, maybe even two since I am feeling zombie-like, passed thru another tsa screening (again a line) thankfully without a pat down. And here I sit, fatigued from having watched a marathon of movies (all of which were imminently forgettable) on the plane from Frankfurt without sleeping a wink, ensconced in yet another albeit comfy airport executive lounge chair.

Oops…Did I nap? So much for attempting to stay awake to avoid jet-lag. In another forty minutes I will board the flight for the final leg of today’s journey. I lead a wonderful life, that includes line-standing, one in which I have learned to find the gifts in waiting as each moment occurs…side note: apparently I may sleep through some of this.

I am on my plane to Raleigh. Seated next to me is a thirty-something marketing director for private colleges. I hesitate to mention aloud that he may be partly responsible for the problems of student debt, the subject of which concerns me..we have an hour flight, I muse, I can bring this up later, unless I forget. He asks me about tips for meditation, then says excitedly he thinks he is too impatient to meditate since his mind works all the time. I assure him this is normal…that he can either use his impatience as an excuse for not meditating or use it to go deeper, that anything can be a roadblock to prevent us from achieving bliss. I’m not sure he hears me, as he lists further reasons for not going into silence.

Funny enough, as he spews his litany of excuses for not meditating, I am reminded of the trash I use to create art. So many people throw out their thoughts and words, like garbage without a thought of where it might go. I ponder his unconscious word scattering. No, he is not talking in his sleep, but what I perceive is instead his speaking without thinking about the ultimate results of his words. He has, possibly literally, created reasons against waiting, patience, which might ultimately lead him to peaceful meditation, rather than provide avenues in which to do so. More often than not, this is based on fear. Should we go into why he is afraid? Naw, I will save it for another post.

I ask myself, rather than him, “Do I do this? Am I the one who finds reasons which prevent me from being fully in the moment?” I quietly ponder this as I notice we have landed in Raleigh. I can deplane and see my son. My waiting is over….for now. I have got some time to meditate on it.

The End Of Life as I Knew It. Welcoming change

I am returning to civilization today and I am a changed woman.

Wow. Really? How can this be? You remark, “At first glance you look no different from when you left. Well, maybe you do have a tan. Did you gain or lose weight? I just don’t see what you might be inferring. Oh, I get it, maybe you’ve changed your mind about something….your opinions, like about politics, relationships or religion. Could that be it?”

Yes. Sort of. Let’s just say for now, before you get to know the newer, model of the me you once thought you knew, I’m changed. We are all, always, like terms on your credit card agreement, subject to change, without notice. Are we not? Why would I be making this announcement? Think about it. Does anything, ever, stay the same, really?

Take my face, or yours. When I was quite young, I would look at the lines on my grandmother’s forehead and maybe once or twice out loud, until I was reminded it was rude to comment on someone’s appearance unless it was obviously a compliment, state, “Nana! How come your face isn’t smooth like mine? What makes it so wrinkly and your cheeks and neck so floppy?” To which she had calmly responded to a soon to be shocked and awe-filled me, “Oh, my dear, this is something that happens to us all. When you live as many years as I, you too will have wrinkles, loose skin and even age spots too.” Obviously I was, at that age, looking at the surface of most things…my grandmother was just one of them.

Before you start jumping to conclusions…number one, because I am not finished with this post…and number, two because “vanity” has rarely been my middle name, or at least not for very long periods in my life. I am going to interrupt your over-taxed mind right now. I have not had surgery or Botox, except the rhinoplasty at aged fifteen when I was so much more impressed by the pages of seventeen magazine or vogue, than I am now. I guess even I shouldn’t jump to any assumptions …yet, while my neck still allows me to wear a V-neck sweater and my jowls have still time before they could make me look as a marionette.

Honestly, I quite like those little bird feet at the edges of my eyes, which crinkle nicely when I smile… the lines of my forehead denote the depth of experiences in my life, some sad, some happy, some exclamatory, and so much more than I could have imagined as I sat looking and listening incredulously towards my grandmother those decades ago.

Could it be my eyes are cataract laden and cannot see the severity of the life roadmap now covering my body? Or is my focus, except for this moment as I write, elsewhere, as for instance, on the olive trees dotting the landscape, appearing before me phht, phht, phht as the bus whirls around curve after nauseating curve.

Yes, I do look in the mirror, but whatever do I see? Certainly not the twenty-something who wore string bikinis to the beach without a care, never considering a copper toned tan, even if it was advertised everywhere. I see now, well maybe not exactly this precise moment, (as I am on a bus winding and bumping its way to the airport at Heraklion on the isle of Crete), a woman who has the energy of a twenty year old – without the attitude except of extreme gratitude, the mind of a sixty year old – a wise ass to be sure, the heart of a fifteen year old – sure I’ve felt hurt, but hell, what are we here for but to love, again and again) and the body of, well, I’m not exactly certain, because when I look around me at many others of my chronological age – I am happily surprised at my vitality, give or take the wear and tear of the sun, cellulite and the belly of a woman who had children thirty years ago practicing Pilates a few times a week and walks daily, even when traveling. I know too the immense power of daily meditation, how it calms my over-active mind, bringing me close to my soul, my center and my heart.

As I peer inside me, I think of the beliefs, ideas and feelings I embraced and let go of through my years, each seeming appropriate at the moment and yet those moments only momentary in the passage of time and space. Of course, deep feelings for my children haven’t changed, or have they? Why yes, how could they not? For they are now more complex with each memory of an event adding to the richness of my emotions. Yes, I do love them more, daily.

I have learned to now ask when people complain if they are choosing a solution or if they just want my ear, and even more I am quite ready to walk away if they want me to share in the illusion of their misery, of which I will neither condone nor participate.

Yes, feelings change. Even anger softens and transforms over time…if fed it grows stronger, with love it often disappears completely. The emotions are in some ways both the easiest and most difficult in which to embrace change, yet in this change we discover the most satisfaction and peace.

At this moment it is possible the change in me is too subtle to the naked eye or busy mind of the beholder, which is perfectly okay, since it is I who have noticed the difference, this being the most important. And time passes.

I am now aboard the Air Berlin flight to Basel, Switzerland, I find myself seated next to the window, viewing the earth, sea and clouds below. With each moment there comes another scene before my eyes, my vision of the earth and sky changing…and so it is with me. Seated next to me is a young Swiss father and his 3 year old son. He apologizes ahead of time for the disruption which may occur in an otherwise “normal” flight. I assure him I quite like children and that I will enjoy our trip together. Normally when I travel internationally I bring a few finger puppets just for these instances, however this time I did not. However, I never travel without a drawing pad and implements and so after takeoff I have whipped these out and proceeded to ask questions of the tyke… drawing and then handing the markers for him to make his own scribbly marks. My creative contagion spreads to his elder sister, who sits across the aisle with “mom”…soon sister and brother are drawing masterpieces; time flying faster than the plane in which we are riding. In no time flat we are now in Basel. But where am I, as now the scene has changed…ah yes, so do I, change, as does the attitude of the young dad who has relaxed and is laughing upon arrival having enjoyed our travels in friendly skies.

Do I trust I can maintain my enthusiasm? I feel now I am supported by an unseen but benevolent force, whose name is not relevant to anyone but myself, though even with this invisible “back-up” I question if once home I will be tempted to repeat old patterns. This new space in which I embrace the unknown is both scary and comforting.

I am learning to swim with the ebb and flow of my life rather than attempt to swim wildly, fighting the tides of change to be possibly sucked into the whirlpool of possible eventual inertia. I now recognize the monsters who can lurk beneath my sea of emotions, some of whom I have not only tamed but have transformed into friendly helpers; this has afforded me new strengths and abilities, especially in understanding better my motivations or temptation.

And change continues. I have now been staying several days in the greenest regions of southern Germany. Today as I depart the comfort of my teacher’s home it is almost wintery. It has been raining here for most of the summer – a strange juxtaposition to the warm waters and weather of Greece or drought-riddled California. This is my TRUE home away from my California home – it is here I have spent many years learning to connect to my own source of being.

I learn as I go, whether it be within, in meditation, from room to room in my home, city to city, state to state, country to country. I see this as my main purpose – to learn, to listen and share when asked to do so.

For now, these days after I began this post, I am on a train bound for Frankfurt airport. I am facing new experiences with a changed heart, ready to embrace life, knowing I will never be the same.

On the meaning of Meditation

I’m here for 2 weeks in Crete to meditate. This is a curiosity to some of those at home and even here. “What is your definition of meditation?” Asks a woman who has chosen to sit beside me at breakfast in the small tourist hotel near Rodakino, and then begins to tell me what she understands the anthroposophist’s definition to be. IMG_0231.JPG. After a consideration I briefly respond, “it is being fully present”, except then I am immediately aware this was my reaction to her questioning – and in itself removed me from my being fully present. “Oh shit!” I think to myself, as her expose’ continues, without pause. I wondered briefly “why I am being subjected to this interrogation when I readily see the woman is more interested in hearing herself speak than to actually listen to anything other than her preconception and her own thoughts exposed.” Again I ask myself…”Why am I being grilled and lectured?” My dilemma.

“How often am I like this?” I invite myself to consider? This situation does not occur in a vacuum. I believe it, as all other events, are opportunities to fuel my understanding and compassion for both myself and others. Obviously I am being given a mirror on which to reflect. Can I do this without running, much less screaming, “Oy!”?

She proceeds to expand …her outer noise further creating a space for me to go inward until fortunately she no longer receives any more fuel from me to feed her seemingly endless chatter – as if by magic all goes immediately quiet. My observation of her silence pulls me from my state… I am temporarily in a quandary. My first instinct is to ask ‘how’ this can be and immediately recognize that my simple ‘how’ is the question that can only be answered literally by an active and noisy mind. I return to silence…giving myself the space to just be. Ah that’s better.

The only sounds now are the wasps and hornets that surround the tourist’s plates laden with honey, jam and meats and the hum and buzz of more quiet conversations at the tables behind me. I sit in present observation and wonder if I am now allowing my open heart to sense what is truly before me. I am no longer shutting myself up but instead allowing the flow of my breath, the sounds and sights to ebb and flow around me. It is only me, here, I muse. My now quiet companion leaves the table, she has no one with whom to speak and I wonder if she has been put off by my silence.

I suppose in an earlier incarnation of my current life I might’ve said, “tough luck.” Only it is now I realize this is my chance to quiet my own inner noise and she a mere reminder for me. To be gentle. And I am left alone to sit viewing the olive trees and the hills in front of me. The light dances upon the scenery.

Dash a little Dash a lot

Dash a little Dash a lot

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There he is. Up there. At the top of the page? Yes…and in the Great Beyond, watching. He is not quite sure if he should be playing yet. It was only yesterday he was considering if he should leave his body – though his small right foot was so awfully ravaged by a creeping cancer.

It was a trying time for him, because I knew he did not want to leave and I agreed I also did not want him to go. I had tried antibiotics and steroids, black salve and wheatgrass, homeopathics and herbals, energetics and yes, prayer..But the cancer on little Dashie’s foot had a different mind/spirit and so it became clear that unless he improved the only options were amputation or euthanasia. Now for a young dog the choice would have been a simple one…cut the darn thing off, he will learn to walk on three paws and pray it does not continue to invade the whole body, but sweet little Dash was 16± years and though he was, up until the last days, still eating, drinking, running down the hall like a dog with two tails after he was re-bandaged and begging to be carried when sister Dot went on her walk.

When I was at home he and I would cuddle at length and speak of his being well again…enough so that we did actually go for a walk and carry, even for the week before I departed… it appeared he would recover. Alas, that was not to be.

Even so, though challenging for me, I pragmatically considered the possibilities. How long could he live like this? Especially since I was heading out of town for 4 weeks. Could my friends handle the responsibility of changing the dressing twice a day? Would they be able to deal with the process of cleaning a wound that was, in itself ugly as hell and sometimes stinky? As soon as I had left it became clear that the health problems my dear sweet little Dash dog was experiencing were indeed too great for others to deal with and my options became only one, to send little Dash to join his brothers and sisters who now reside in the Great Beyond. And It is an exercise in futility to imagine how things might’ve been had I not been away. Plain and Simple. We won’t go there.

Instead, I have decided to eulogize the being whose name was Dashiel Hamlet. Yes, I do know who was his quasi namesake. What else might a writer name her dog/s?

When I first met the puppy whose name at the time was Lucky, (and he was as you read on) he belonged to a poor family in Echo Park where my daughter Julia had a job transforming vacant lots into arts parks. Julia had been presented with a very tiny 8 week old puppy, Lucky’s litter mate/sister, who she promptly named Dot…because of a white dot under her chin. One day not long after, Julia called me hysterically. “Mom, Lucky was hit by a car and the family will not take him to the vet. Can we take him please?” I immediately agreed and we drove him to the hospital where we were advised that this tiny dog had a broken leg and pelvis and was experiencing kidney failure. Oy. Surgery was the only option and I agreed to foot (no pun intended) the bill; two or three mortgage payments later we took home the cast-wearing puppy. Meanwhile the family of Lucky had relinquished their ownership – no way were they going to pay the bill. No way would I have given him back either!

Little Dot was ecstatic her brother had come to live with us – she chased him around the yard – body cast and all. Julia was soon going off to college and now I had, in addition to BooBoo, my rescued bichon frise, Julia’s Dot and limping Lucky whose name I soon changed to Dash- an abbreviation of Dashiel. Dot formally became Dorothy (Barker). I had now two of my favorite writers as canine muses and BooBoo to remind me to love my mistakes.

Dot and Dash regularly played tug of war with a 6 foot rope, wrestling and play-fighting over balls and toys and shoes. I laughed til I cried, often and always at their tirelessness and my joy at watching these beings grow. At night they crawled into bed with me. Dash snuggling into the crook of my arm – armpit actually, Dot often under the covers on my left and hBoo Boo was at my feet. It wasn’t always easy to change positions but they were so damn loving, who was I to complain. In the morning they would all chase down the hall, often nipping at my shoes, into the kitchen where they sat impatiently as I prepared breakfast.

At the breakfast table I’d dare to look down at the baleful eyes of the trio as they watched my every bite. It would come as little surprise that I did indeed serve tidbits from the table…I am a sucker and should probably wear a shirt with a big fat “S” to advertise it, though everyone probably knows this too already, but I’m mentioning it for the hell of it.

While Dot is the queen of butter (she must be psychic as she regularly arrives directly in front of the refrigerator door when it is opened to remove a cold stick and can foretell exactly when I am even thinking of the substance), neither Dash nor BooBoo was that particular.

Speaking of BooBoo – this very wonderful dog was self-walking. He would regularly escape at the slightest opening of the front door and disappear for about an hour after which there would be a scratch/knock at the door with a bit of an accompanying “woof” signaling he had returned. Sometimes a well-meaning neighbor would bring BooBoo to the door..”I found your dog wandering the hood…” To which I would act surprised and thankful – I knew better than to say “I know, he does this daily., having said it once to a woman who then proceeded to lecture me on dog parenting. This continued through most of his 14 years until he became blind and deaf and exceedingly pissed off about probably all of his senses disappearing.

I had to beg my second husband, Peter, that we take him to the vet so BooBoo could be sent to the Great Beyond. Peter refused for months until he was bitten – he then got the message. I mourned the passing of my funny bichon buddy who used to follow me or the kids wherever we’d go, except when he was on his daily constitutional. Fortunately neither Dash nor Dot mirrored his daily habit, though walk we did do daily.

Meanwhile, I got divorced and a couple years later met Max who readily adopted my dogs – I was so glad he was an avid dog person – he and I met a day after his dear dog, Ras, had passed on (was I the rebound? I’ll never know) – he had a cat, Neiko, who was very old, which was fortunate for me, since I do have an allergy to cats. When Neiko died some six months later I did breathe a sigh of relief (no joke intended). Funny thing about my cat allergy…I only discovered it when my own special cat, LC, who was more canine than feline, had passed away and my asthma miraculously disappeared! But enough about cats.

Over the six years before I met Max, Dot and Dash had grown into fierce friends – (they played daily up until the last months of Dashie’s life) so when Max and I found Buck, our amazing siberian husky, at a horse fair in the winter of 2005, it was Dot who had to give her approval. Dash was cool. He thought the big dog was more than okay. It was mutual. Dot was pissed – she let Buck know, in no uncertain terms, she would not tolerate any BS from the big oaf. Dot began yapping which then provoked Buck into what is now known as his very individualized husky howl. Dot and Buck still perform their cacophony when people or dogs pass on the street or knock on the door; sometimes they do this just for the hell of it, a sort of audible doggy dance-off competition. Dash would join in only if he felt like it. He also and often times had a way of telling the Type A’s they could just stew in their own juices but he would have none of it!

Each story I recall seems to remind me of yet another event. One might ask if each memory I bring up is a sort of mind-fuck, and yet my answer is unequivocally no, it is solid testimony to the immensely deep affection I had for the tremendous being who was known as little Dash.

I still see Dash hide his face in his paws when I’d blow air at him. I can feel his paw tapping my leg when he wants a “pick me up” or a nosh. When he got something stuck in his paw he would graciously and without argument allow me to investigate and remove the object. Taking a bath or the many instances in which we would take a shower together were events of hilarity. Especially when Dash would decide to give in to the wet and enjoy his soapy massage. When it was time to dry off the silly little dog helped me by leaning into the towel and my hand with reckless abandon. We were a team, he and I to seek out Dot and encourage her to jump into the water, after which the two damp dogs would chase around the house and dry off by rubbing themselves to dry off anywhere they could. This included furniture, clothing, rugs – anything was a target – this compelled me to clean up my act, so to speak…I recall the years prior when my mother was reminding me to pick up my things – my dogs channeled her in this way. There are so many instances of endearing Dash behavior that will forever be in my memory – these things might make me cry, though for now I am instead holding them in extreme thankfulness.

On March 2, 2012 – nearly 2 months before we had any inclination that my beloved Max was truly ill, I found Mocha, the stray 2 year old chocolate lab, who was entering the 210 freeway to head north (was she heading to San Francisco?) I was in the process of exiting. Fortunately, my son, Billy was visiting me and in the passenger seat. We were enroute to the shelter Where I give workshops. He jumped out of the car and dashed across the intersection, and on to the onramp to nab the dog before she became roadkill. We brought the lab home after discovering she had a chip with no registration. It was no question we’d keep her if the humans who had her turned up. They didn’t. We did. Surprisingly the pack thought she was aok…even tough Dot said “alrighty” to the lovable moocher. Dash was more than tolerant, as long as she gave him space, which she did. It was at this time Dashie stopped sleeping with me. I think it was because he knew Max was ill before we did, and wanted to give him space.

Buck likes having a big buddy who is submissive, a bill Mocha fits to a “T”. The two big dogs and I have an intensive daily morning walk/run which is first preceded by Buck waking me and Mocha from our slumber, then both of them encouraging me to hurry, get dressed, grab leashes and get out the door. We were often followed by Dash to the door where I’d remind him I’d be back and to guard the house. Upon our return Dash would welcome us back, then tell me it was his and Dot’s turn to explore our hood, by barking until leashes were attached. Dash had the adorable habit of grabbing Dot’s leash in his mouth and dragging her to the door. She never fought this attempt of his to bully her. She knows he is playing, that she is top dog and she is the love of his life.

Funny how this statement and realization has caused me to have uncontrollable tears, as if the thought of her without sweet Dashiel is somehow like me without my dear Max. Fa! I was just easing into my singledom and this has to remind me of Max. Instead of running from this feeling, as I am at first tempted, I am embracing it head on. Bam boom, wave after wave hits me,( like the sea outside here in Crete, though each wave is more gentle) until I am quiet once again, reflecting on the gifts of my increasing awareness along with these doggy memories I call forward.

Afternoons with my dogs has developed over the years into an interesting routine, because as mornings are about exercise and food, 4:00PM is about dinner, it’s preparation and eventual consumption. Often I am at my desk, writing away when I am disturbed by first Mocha sniffing at my arm, then Buck nibbling at said arm, followed by a Buck howl, a Mocha bark, and then a Dash repetitive woof. Dot sits back, relaxed knowing the three will take care of getting food on the table. Once ready, or at least I make them think I’m ready, and state, “okay, let’s make dinner”, we all go to the kitchen, to grab scissors and basket, then all three follow me to the garden where I cut greens and other veggies, to the garage freezer where I grab meat, open the fridge to get carrots, back into the house where they park themselves in the kitchen as I cook their meal. Like the previous run-on sentence, the process takes time, which can be especially trying to the patience of the big dogs. I am often reminding them it all has to cook…and no I do not feed them a raw diet, except for raw carrot, sweet potato and broccoli noshes while dinner stews on the stove.

Up until little Dash’s foot challenge, my sweet dogs have had virtually no health issues. When I first got Mocha she had ear “ick”, but this was quickly resolved with the clean diet of organic veggies and meat…and no chicken! No packaged dog food. I prepare dehydrated sweet potato and peanut butter seed granola treats for them…cheaper, faster and easier than commercial stuff. Well, not necessarily faster but the payoff is amazing. And I’ve got happy pooches.

Now, even at this great distance I am surrounding my three dogs with immense hugs and lots of love. I am sure we will have a good cry, lots of hugs and licks and heavy petting when I return. As to my sweet little Dash… I am imagining he is hanging out with BooBoo and LC and Max (of course) and Neiko and Ras, and our family of dogs and cats and people who have preceded him into the Great Beyond. This causes me to feel very thankful and blessed.

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Two Year Can o’Max Anniversary Ceremony

Two years ago, on August 15 at 1:11pm, my sweet partner, Max (Merle) Hall Middleton, departed our physical world for the Great Beyond. Today, the last remnants of his physical being I scattered in our garden (especially around the habanero and tomato plants) and then in the Pacific Ocean (off the Santa Monica pier but don’t tell anyone).

For months those last two – 1lb cans of Max’s ash have been sitting in my closet, gathering dust. Funny, dust on the outside and the inside, eh? Anyway. I hadn’t wanted to deal with them. After all I’ve been feeling better, thankfully the waves of thunderous grief have subsided…ripples here and there, but no more emotional tsunamis, which is a very good thing in my book.

Those little metal cans were stuck shut. Did they mirror my reticence. I thought it best to pry them open in the kitchen before heading elsewhere for the ceremonial release. I was correct. It took me at least fifteen minutes to open can#1…which was more like an explosion of human ash on my granite counters, after which I carefully brushed the contents back into the can and gently replaced the lid. The second can was easier and slightly less messy which was a great relief and I chuckled at my clumsiness.

I wondered briefly whether the dumping of these last vestiges of my sweetheart’s body would unleash some strange energy, other than the explosive kitchen mess, alas it has not. Instead I feel wonderfully peaceful. It was the “right” thing to do, because I feel good about it. At the same time I also feel the presence of a greater strength, as if my dear Maxie just stood by me and said, “You can move forward now, with ease. Don’t worry, I’ll always have your back!”

So what now? I’ve concluded the “mourning chapter” of my life, at least that’s what I’m sayin. I’ve learned so much in these two years, especially about my gratitude for Every Fucking Thing that has happened.

What? You’re grateful for cancer? Max dying? Grief? Money challenges? Crazy people sponging off you…etc? Why? Because I’m here, I’ve embraced the change Max encouraged us all to do. I have learned to feel through each experience, rather than run from my feelings.

Bob Stevens, (the man who gave us Conscious Language) of Www.masterysystems.com reminds us to Feel, touch, stay, love and feel again. This is what I’m doing and it is working. I am working! And I am thankful.

So. What’s next? Travel. Soon I’m headed to Europe to meditate, write and meet friends (new and old).

Tonite I’m headed to pacific palisades for the play, Abstraction, written by Ryan Paul James, directed by Katy Jacoby and starring Ronnie Marmo and members of (Maxie’s friends) http://www.theatre68.com

Have a great weekend folks !

On the Road/Sky Again or do Blonds have more fun?

I’m hoping this doesn’t vanish into the ether as my previous post has done. When reflecting on the disappearance i considered only briefly a “loss”, then mused “there is so much more from where that came.” And so here I sit, writing at a table in a very populated organic cafe on Oxford Street in London, England, drinking chai tea, watching the tourists and locals meander by on the wet sidewalk. Its also raining.

I had secretly promised myself I would write every day, during this month long journey. And I did, really… Anyway, since I promised myself, and fulfilled said promise, without posting, I’m cool. But, just to fill those interested parties in on my travels thus far, here goes.

“Is it true? Do blonds have more fun?” Asked the TSA screener as she peered briefly at me, looked at my brunette passport photo and took a double take at the real me once more.

“Yes! At least this blond is having more fun than let’s say two years ago!”

What changed? Cancer. Death. Tears. The richness of mourning. Yes, I said it was rich, not necessarily pleasant, but full of my every human emotion it was.

My decision to go blond was pretty simple. I was tired of dyeing my roots every three weeks even if I was funding my then hairdresser’s child care. I also got this sort of bee in my bonnet about going au naturale…yes I know my going blond is not exactly “natural”, but it makes the white root halo I have been developing look less obvious, and it is much more fun. Especially with that pause and ever so slight look of embarrassment by someone who hasn’t seen me in a while. “Oh my, you’re a blond now!” It makes me giggle. Then again, here I am, on the road again, now as a blond…and yes I am having some fun. Here goes about this trip.

I departed my abode in the very wee and yawning hours of Sunday morn, (I think it was a week ago) hopping a Mr. Toad’s wild ride of shuttle trips to LAX. I bounced and wiggled in the way back of the Prime Time stretched van, falling in and out of sleep, miraculously arriving in a mere 15 minutes from the time I had been picked up. It was now 4:20am. Double yawn. Fortunately I had a much earned frequent flier first class ticket which entitled me to a free entree into the Admirals Club; even if I did have to wait ten minutes for them to open their doors! Gawd! Oh the first world travesty, my having to wait in line to get a very comfy leather lounge chair, complimentary cappuccino and stale croissants. I allowed myself the mini pleasure of snoozing, noshing, checking emails and texting as I waited the additional two hours for my plane to Dallas to begin boarding.

The flight was thankfully uneventful. I snoozed a bit, ate a poor excuse for a first class breakfast – a bowl of cold cereal with 2%milk and a banana – at least it wasn’t my idea of first class, where one might be offered almond milk and organic hempseed granola, then again you can refer to my remarks about first world problems. All that aside there is so much to say for seat and legroom even if you are as vertically challenged as I and besides i did have those two mediocre croissants back in LA… It is a balance of comfort qualities as they relate to quantities. I am so thankful this is all I have yet about which to complain. Let’s move on.

Our early arrival in Dallas and my 2 hour wait for the connecting bird to Detroit gave me the chance to walk off the “flying leg fatigue”, especially since I won’t be walking and running my sweet dogs for several weeks and I gotta get moving to maintain my girlish figure while traveling.

Aren’t you gonna ask me about Detroit? No? Just as well. I’ll be brief. I didn’t see it. Unless you consider the airport. I arrived at the North terminal, schlepped my bags to a shuttle to take me to the Westin at the Macnamara Terminal where I checked in, washed my face and headed out to dinner, where? Back Into the airport where I got felt up by a TSA bull dyke with the officious manner of Jaba the Hut. “Hey, why the frisk? I went to the trouble of getting registered with TSA Precheck!” I asked. The BD gruffly responded it was required since i wasnt flying. Wait a minute – I just got the “go ahead” from security at the hotel and a free pass into the airport, what gives? Well all this must’ve really pissed her off and adding insult to injury, I jokingly remarked that had I wanted a massage I would’ve stayed at the hotel. Not funny to Jaba. After a tougher than what one might imagine a LAPD SWAT team pat down, she swabbed the inside of my purse, the inside of my shoes – I was waiting for a dental swab, and fearing a cavity search, when she finally gave me the okay to put my clothes back on…okay, my sweater and shoes, but you get the idea. She took her sweet time to insert the myriad of swabs she collected into the machine and took a lazy summer’s day worth of minutes to saunter the few steps back to me to look at me and tell me I was then free to go. Sheesh! Had I wanted to terrorize I would’ve slain her with my sharp witted tongue! But I was hungry, sort of, and wanted nothing more than to mange and head back to my comfy bed.

Into the terminal I traipsed along moving sidewalks and long hallways to see what might tickle my time-challenged palate. I walked briefly into a hamburger joint only to ask myself, “What the hell am I thinking?” Then I settled on Soba, the Japanese restaurant where the very helpful waitress guided me to a vegetarian rice wrap filled with asparagus, pickled daikon, greens, ginger and other stuff I was too tired to remember. I dipped the pieces in delicious sauces that accompanied the roll and scarfed it up as if I hadn’t eaten in days. Ha! Yummy and perfect for my sleep-deprived self. And back to the Westin I did trod to sleep, perchance to remember to set my alarm.

In the wee hours of Monday morning, I rose, dressed, gathered my belongings to the door, looked around the room to check for anything I might’ve forgotten and once done I hopped a shuttle to rent my very noisy Ford Focus at Dollar Rent a car, which was an apt name for sleepy me, the focus part that is, though the noisiness did keep me awake as I then headed with it down the highway for the two hour trip to my friends in Somerset, MI who are helping me with a special business endeavor. The Traffic. Oy. But in hindsight I now see it was far better than the Karmageddon jams we experience in LALALAND.

Meeting done, its now three hours later, I’m back in the rental allowing Siri to guide me to the Dollar drop-off at Detroit Metropolitan airport, then into the bus to the terminal, and back through the infamous security…only this time I get “randomly” picked out to get yet another pat down, though this time by a more gentle agent. Its only then I realize I’ve got hours to go and there is no LOUNGE…oy, what’s a girl to do? I check to see if I can get on the flight scheduled to leave an hour earlier. As luck has it, I do, I board and arrive in Philly, immediately to locate the British Airways very posh lounge. Take note American Airlines, BA knows how to treat First Class passengers. The receptionist solemnly advised “There will be only light fare on the night flight to London, please dine with us, GRATIS,inside.” Who am I to argue? Instead I dutifully enter, drop bags, and am then guided to a table for “this ain’t your typical supper”. Before me is lain a totally cool buffet of fresh vegetables, gourmet appetizer salads, custom created sushis and rice rolls, pastas and everything from chicken to duck to prime filet…and so on for carnivores. From this I load my plate with the veggies and salads. I’m going to be lying in an airplane for six plus hours, I don’t really require a heavy meal or a cardiac care unit.

Each moment I am reminded of how fortunate I am and say “thank you” to people who serve and the invisible forces that provide for me this day, those past and future ones too.

Travel from Heathrow to London via the Express is quick and easy. I grab a cab to my hotel in SOHO and check in.

I have now spent 3 wonderful days in London, meeting up with my friend Ellie and her squeeze Rashi – walking the streets of London, snacking/noshing just about every sample offered at Borough Market, laughing all the way and through to the Book of Mormon, and winding our way back to Hazlitt’s Hotel where I have been sleeping on the comfiest of beds with the ghosts of British literary past. The next morning I toured the haunts of the Beatles with other walkers and fans and if that wasn’t enough was then mesmerized by the gourmet vegetarian fare at The Gate in Islington. The food at The Gate is probably the best food I’ve eaten in a very long time.IMG_0191.JPG
I hike (4 miles at least) back to Soho with a stop at the Regent’s Park Apple store to figure out why my voicemail is messed up. I figured walking off the food while sightseeing was a damn good idea…if only my feet agreed. I took a twenty minute snooze then headed out again to dine with LA friend Aimee Rivers who now lives the life of a Londoner. We munched on delicious tapas and fresh natural juice fizzes at her fave Soho haunt…the name of which I can’t remember. The food was good. We talked and ate and talked and laughed and ate until we decided to find coffee…then walked and talked til we hit the theatre district, had some cappuccinos, then back to give the tour of Hazlitts – my hotel. The place is really something. It ain’t your Holiday Inn, I can tell you that much.

Let’s see where was I. Oh yeh, I packed, again, and set my alarm, again and went to sleep. 5:30am came too soon, as did my shower and dressing and coffee downstairs while I waited for Mohammed in an Uber to take me to London City airport. I think my driver was hitting on me, but he was way too young to consider anything but a hallucination had occurred. I am so not into young men, except for maybe the stamina part, but a more mature guy brings more than historical baggage…sometimes it is also hysterical. My ego did, I admit, feel charmed, if only slightly and I arrived at my destination unscathed.

Thankfully I passed thru security with little more than an oops. I left my water bottle In my purse. My bad. They tossed it. The bag went through again. I was allowed through. The London City airport reminded me of the little Burbank airport of days gone by, including walking up the steps to board the plane. Quaint. I purchased a fresh almond croissant and a decaf mocha…moments later I boarded the plane to Basel promptly falling asleep until we touched down in Basel. Quick flight, I think.

Basel is in Switzerland, hence, there was a quasi customs/immigration to pass through. I did. Moments later I gathered my suitcase and took the lift to my rendezvous with my meditation group at the Air Berlin ticket counter. I was in a semi state of fatigue, but I wouldn’t have exactly called it jetlag.

Let me see. I am in Crete in the tiny beach village of Polyrizzos outside of the town of Rodakino in the Southern side of the island. It took three hours by bus over narrow winding roads with countless hairpin turns to get here, which we did last Friday night. Thankfully I slept in the dark bus as it wound its way. Somewhere between Basel and here my ankles swelled up like those ugly leg-warmers i used to wear when they were fashionable in the eighties or nineties..only these were flesh colored with no cute stripes or patterns. Yuck. Fortunately the puffy ankles did not keep me awake. Upon exiting the bus we grabbed our suitcases and were guided up a myriad of steps…this was not fun I can assure you, nevertheless climb I did to my room with a nice view of the water which I noticed the next day after sleep.

I’m going to stop writing, for now and hopefully post this before I lose readers or get an offer to pen a travel column. I’ll tell y’all more about Crete, later, after I’ve done more being a blond research.

We all Live in a Yellow Submarine Metaphorically speaking. Thank you Beatles, I think.

As some of you have read previously, I am divesting myself of many years of clutter, both mine and that of my very dearly departed Max. Currently I am selling Max’s jeep (read previous post – see http://www.maxsjeep.info) plus an assortment of ordinary, bizarre and some very wonderful objets d’arts.  Among these are some Beatles memorabilia which I have dutifully posted on Ebay (where else?)  It is funny, about those objects we collect over the years. In retrospect, I wonder why either of us had collected these Beatles items.  Oh sure we liked the Beatles – and even agreed that John was our favorite, but neither of us were over the top “fans” per se, breakfast with the Beatles not withstanding.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  So why really did we keep these things?  4 (Giant Yellow Submarine Postcards – 1968) were stuck in an envelope in the closet of our office http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=261513900769 and 2  (John Lennon’s In His Own Words – 1964 & Spaniard in the Works – 1965) in plastic ziplock bags hiding on a bookshelf, jammed between Shakespeare and Vonnegut (at least they were in good company).  When you look at what we collected you’ll undoubtedly be able to guess who collected what, with probably less than a second of consideration but I will quickly expose any mystery for those scratching their heads in confusion. I, being the more visual of the two of us, did in fact collect/keep/stash/hide the postcards – for what other reason, except the art of which they were was “of the psychedelic style of that period” … maybe too I had no idea what else to do with them.  Was I saving these to fund my future children’s education? No. Too late, because I found them hiding on the top shelf in the closet long after they had left school, and it is doubtful even today they are worth even a portion of a USA college tuition.  Maybe it was the lyrics of the Yellow Submarine song that these had reminded me of a better time and for this reason I hung on to these giant pieces of cardboard.  Except that as my comments which follow will explain, it is probably not the case.

In the town where I was born  (Los Angeles?) Lived a man who sailed to sea  (Maybe, but no one I knew at the time, however I, a nice Jewish girl from Encino, travelled to British Columbia and I did go Salmon fishing in the early seventies, for several years. Does that count?) And he told us of his life  (Anyone who really knows me has heard my fish tales … and my Perfect Storm years, barfing at sea, ad nauseum.) In the land of submarines (thankfully I was above the water, below is just fine for fish and kelp and Jules Verne, etc) So we sailed up to the sun  (We did fish up to the Dixon Entrance/Alaska, midnight sun and all.) Till we found the sea of green  (Most of the time it rained, even in the Summer. The land up there indeed was green, and often when the sea was choppy I looked plenty green – please refer to barfing at which time I did not for a moment consider the color of the sea.) And we lived beneath the waves  (please also refer back to “Perfect Storm”) In our yellow submarine  (actually the boat was blue and orange and it thankfully rode atop the water, mostly.) We all live in a yellow submarine  (thankfully I only did this for a couple years after which I kissed dry land and vowed to only go on cruise ships, if at all. ) Yellow submarine, yellow submarine  (blah,blah,blah) We all live in a yellow submarine – Yellow submarine, yellow submarine (ditto) And our friends are all on board  (There were only 2 of us, my then boyfriend Don and me & occasionally our dog, a lab named Cesar who didn’t like the water, so he stayed home whenever possible, lucky him.) Many more of them live next door (We had fishing buddies who met up with us at fish camps along the season and the neighborhood where we lived when on land was full of fishermen. Most of them were raging alcoholics. Fun.Whoopee. Not.) And the band begins to play (Only in my head and perhaps only today as I write because I am thankfully not at sea.) We all live in a yellow submarine – Yellow submarine, yellow submarine We all live in a yellow submarine – Yellow submarine, yellow submarine [Full speed ahead, Mr. Parker, full speed ahead! Full speed over here, sir! Action station! Action station! Aye, aye, sir, fire! Heaven! Heaven!] (Yes, many of my fishing buddies are now long gone, perhaps in Heaven, some may be raising a few pints with Max. L’chaim!) As we live a life of ease (A life of ease)  – (Really? Commercial fishing is never, really, a life of ease – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.) Everyone of us (Everyone of us) has all we need (Has all we need)  (That line is true…when you’re at sea, fresh air, clean food, and nature is abundant – at least it was when I was fishing those many years ago- probably not so much now in the Pacific Ocean, thank you Fukishima. Oh god, am I waxing political? And today I do have all I require…except perhaps Max, who art in heaven.) Sky of blue (Sky of blue) and sea of green (Sea of green)  (Except when its stormy and its all grey and black wherever you look. Oy the memories of storms!) In our yellow (In our yellow) submarine (Submarine, ha, ha) (Easy for you & the Beatles to laugh, and go on about that infernal Yellow Submarine… you’re all stoned and sitting where its warm, dry and the sea below or around you ain’t churning. Then again I’m no longer regurgitating into the surging swells which is much for which to be thankful) We all live in a yellow submarine – Yellow submarine, yellow submarine….(Okay its all a metaphor, maybe you’ll have better luck with these silly cards!)  And now we can actually take a brief look at Max’s John Lennon Beatles stuff.
Hmmm. I can only venture a guess as to why Max saved John Lennon’s books, I vaguely remember reading them years ago, liking them and passing them on to friends.  They were written fifty years ago, during John’s (and Max’s) early years and though these are clever pieces of writing and doodling,  the grammar, spelling and punctuation probably would have sent Max into his English major’s tailspin. Max and I talked about a lot of stuff but the two of us never even discussed these books – I didn’t know he had them!  I listed “In His Own Write” at http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=261513964113 . I listed “A Spaniard in the Works” at http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=221474669837.    Maybe you’ll like em and you can tell me your ideas as to why Max hung onto them for so long.  I just now thought perhaps a seance to ask him why, but no, I have better questions to ask him should he decide to pop up.
But enough about selling stuff, I believe I’m writing this piece as a means of outer cleansing.  As to internal cleansing… I AM juicing. Lots of green vegetables, which I know are so good for me/you/everyone.  Gawd! Dontcha just love the metaphor in which we are living?  I’m so into this cleaning out the old in prep for embracing the new I could just sing… but not Yellow Submarine.  I’ll think of another ditty and let you know.  Maybe it will be “Release Me…”   Thanks for reading.

Selling Max’s CJ7 – do they drive jeeps in heaven?

Judging by my title, most people who know me also know I’m finally ready to sell Maxie’s infamous jeep. For those who don’t know me, I can say that the JEEP has been a labor of love, grief, frustration, more love, a lot of tears, a good deal of hard earned cash and help from the angels, probably one of whom is none other than the also infamous Max Middleton, RIP…or maybe not resting in peace but perhaps riding around the Great Beyond in a replica of this new and improved CJ.20140619-193620-70580995.jpgYou can buy this wonderful piece of manliness …go to http://www.maxsjeep.info for how!

Maxie loved this vehicle. Perhaps more than he loved me, but we shall never know and I’d like to think we were at least equally held in great regard. However that being said, I certainly got a bit more attention in the last couple years of Max’s comparatively young life (he was only 61 when fucking cancer got him) than the jeep. Oh sure he got the oil changed and the tires rotated, but by the time he was on the decline in spring of 2012, so was his jeep…. The seats were tattered, the muffler was noisy, the engine sounded like shit…the jeep’s condition was sort of a metaphor for cancer’s attack on his health. During the final months of Max’s life I was doing what I could (because I did think I could) to empower Max to regain his vibrant self. I couldn’t. He didn’t. And he died. Crap!

So, there I was with one dead love of my life and a jeep that was on its last legs to boot. I was a weeping, grieving mess and knew I was not going to “snap out of it” very quickly. I was, however, and still am, the sort of person who required a means with which to transform the shit that had hit the fan of my life into some sort of productive compost…with which to grow a new garden..life…me…blah, blah. And so I made the choice to take the jeep on as a project, though in retrospect I must admit I must’ve been fucking out of my mind. I knew zip, zilch, nada about cars except to change the oil every 3-5k, check the tires, rotate the tires, replenish the fluids…etc. But they say if you don’t know, someone else does and all ya gotta do is locate the one who does…and so I did, or at least thought I did.

I hired a friend, who kinda knew…but rather than go into the sordid details that he was in way over his head and then about the other homeless “friend” who though he was a crack mechanic who deftly installed the new engine, fuel injection and electronic distributor, then became less than amicable when it came to getting him out of my art studio where he had ensconced himself for three months, and so, a year and a half, many dollars, bits of mild hysteria, an abundance of gray hair and countless new Jeep parts later I finally went to Mike at http://www.fourxdoctor.com who thankfully got Max’s CJ rolling down the road, and nicely at that.

Oh god I could go on and on about the jeep and Max and the times we drove it to Malibu, the wind in my hair (Max had lost most of his) or when we had to replace yet another stolen radio (a jeep drawback…but seriously who can hear a radio with the top down anyway? or the times Buck, our beloved husky would try to drive the jeep, leaning heavily on Max’s shoulder as we tooled down the 101. But I will not wax on, poetically as I am tempted.

Instead I will close this bit of jeep lore in the hopes that someone who also loves jeeps might fall in love with Max’s Jeep and decide to bid (a lot) on it and buy. I know that if it’s possible my sweet angelic Max is driving his version on whatever plane of existence he is riding. And I’ll know the past two years of mourning will have been worth it.

If you are interested, or know someone who might be and has the cash…go to http://www.maxsjeep.info. Then click on the ebay link. Thanks for reading…and I hope you like my other blog too!

What would Grandma Moses Do?

Here I am. In Austin. I would’ve written sooner but I’ve been busy repeatedly chasing a rapidly crawling baby, my 9 month old grandson, Levi. I’m beat. Like a stick. I suppose this form of exhaustion is penance for being the out of town grandma. Sheesh. I’ve said it now. Oy the guilt! But I’m more creative than letting a mere baby wear me down to simply saying “Woe is poor lil ole me!” Besides I’m tougher than I look.20140512-001005.jpg. I arrived here last Wednesday, having been greeted at the airport by a smiling, adorable and drooling Levi and his moderately frazzled mother, my daughter Julia. Okay she was not at wits end, but the familiar signs of new motherhood – those telltale spots and stains on her shoulders and shirt fronts, the house with laundry strewn appropriately here and there, dirty dishes in the sink, etc. reminded me of myself 35 years ago. Oh the memories. Anyway, I got right to work, doing a few chores and playing peekaboo with the energizer baby while mom Julia took a much needed relaxing shower.

Those who know me well might suppose I have, after spending several days here, already set up a basket of recyclables to create a baby art project, and it’s not that I haven’t thought of it, because I just mentioned it, (duh!) but no, at least not yet. My internal creative wheels have been spinning, I proudly admit, and still I am not yet at the stage to manifest my usual form of creative visual expression.

So what else might I do? A standup routine? I’ve done that in the past. Maybe. There is so much to mention to a captive, probably AARP audience…should I ever hang out with peeps my own age…Like the fact I have avoided moving closer than a thousand miles from babysitting regularly, that I have not stepped once inside a toys r us in over 25 years (thank god), or ventured near Disneyland, universal studios or Knotts Berry farm because my gag reflex cannot take too much artificial cute in one place or for longer than 5 minutes and even that is too long.

But oops I believe I spoke too soon….Julia suggested I accompany her and the wee lad to Buy Buy Baby, the big box store for people who can’t purchase enough crap for their kids. I just saw infant automatic rockers that would make most parents down Dramamine just watching their tyke be lulled to sleep. I’ve took a video of one…but I’m not sure it will post.

Julia did have a good excuse to go shopping as it appears Levi has outgrown the high tech infant car seat already. This one maxes out at 30″ and the sweet nine month old boy wonder is tipping the tape measure at 29 1/2 as I write. Rather than putting him on a diet for a couple months, as I initially joked, I offered to pop for a bigger model…that was until I saw the prices of these suckers! Can you imagine a protective car seat for only 900 bucks? And the darn thing wasn’t even made of Italian leather! “Well, there are cheaper models, look over here!” I stated loudly as I steered shopping cart loaded with baby Levi toward them. The saleswoman said that the $439 models were just as safe. “Shit what a relief.” I muttered under my breath, thinking to myself, “There’s gotta be one on craigslist for at least half that.” We left the store without a new seat, but with models and prices noted. Online shopping here we come. You might think I’m cheap and don’t care about the safety of my grandson, which would be partially right…I am definitely cheap.

But back to the important stuff. I might get a ribbon for my feat in having wrestled a soiled diaper off, cleaned and re-diapered the moving behind, in less than sixty seconds, of my quite adorable, friendly and feisty grandson. Imagine a sort of relay race with a greased pig, or hog-tying a steer situation, which is also immensely entertaining to the constantly moving babe. He giggles and squeals as I grab him, dragging him into position to Velcro his diaper in place. Thank goodness we don’t have those pins anymore that I used with Julia and Billy. Back then I must’ve impaled myself more than I actually hit the diaper. Thank goodness I poked myself rather than my kids. It’s amazing the inventions that make parenthood so much easier now, some thirty plus years later. Take those disposable diapers. When my kids were wearing them it was only for traveling, and even then I had to bring a roll of tape in case the attached tape fastener came off and there appeared a hole in the diaper. I remember one time nearly covering the entire diaper with tape because too many holes had been created in the process of adjusting the damn diaper and I had neglected to pack replacements. I had to cut the thing off when it got filled…not pretty even in hindsight (pun intended). Nowadays if the diaper doesn’t go on right you just pull the Velcro tab and reposition the thing. Had the Velcro doohickey been invented I could’ve saved a bundle in tape costs!

But enough about that…I may fill you in later after the kid gets potty trained, which couldn’t happen soon enough, at least for parents Julia and Christian.
Speaking of time flying and child development. The kid, in addition to being Mr. Interactive Personality, is crawling and standing (not walking unaided yet, thank you Jesus) has like ten teeth, is eating food and still nursing and joyously plays away with musical instruments! Is this normal? Levi’s vocabulary is limited to dededededadadada, mumumumimimim, plus vowel mixed squeals and a hilarious imitation of a creaky screen door in need of a large can of wd40. No, he is not reading yet, then again he is a work in progress.

Today, he grabbed my cold, cynical heart and melted it for good as I fed him a watermelon Popsicle … For ever lick he took he pushed the thing back to me to have a lick and smiled. Again, Is that normal? Naw. He’s my grandson, of course he’s going to be advanced, adorable and precocious!

I’m heading home on Tuesday, with a plan on relaxing, kvelling about the cute kid to all my friends and planning an art piece to commemorate my visit. I’ll take a picture and post it. In the meantime I’m working on my standup routine.