September 29, 2015

Presentation of Self

Maasai Shield
Wowie Kazowie! I just returned to my room from an incredible one-on-one consultation of Self Presentation provided by the one of the consultants here at the convention! Call me a narcissist, but I love discovering things about myself.

One of the things I appreciate the most about retirement is the time for inner reflection and the courage to really search for self-truth. Though some of the truths may be unappealing, there is still time to make the adjustments necessary to clean them up!

The process was so easy and yet so telling. The consultant interviews you, recording the interview.

The questions are very simple and basic; Greatest strength? Biggest challenge? Most crazy weakness? Favorite movie?  What one thing happening on earth bothers you the most. You know, your basic sitting-around-the-campfire questions!

 Following the interview, you watch the video with the consultant.

One of the questions: "What would you like people to think about you?"

My answer; that I'm open and easy to talk to and a good listener!  Guess what my body language tells people?  "Back off!"  Truly, my posture, my hands, my legs said "Closed For Lunch. Not Coming Back After Lunch Either!"

Now she did say that she has seen my during the show and breakouts, and in less formidible circumstances, I do present myself a little more relaxed and open but it is evident that I have a big shield up.

During the interview, she asked about my favorite movies. The three that popped into my head were Sliding Doors, French Kiss and Enchanted April. All movies about women who have to and do make major changes in their lives...

Could it be that I need to make some major changes in my life? That would be a firm YES! Can anyone make those changes for me? Firmer NO!

A little more discussion and we talk about my PTSD. This is when she becomes my new bestie!

We discuss the how's and why's I have this protective shield in front of me, not the particulars about the origination of the PTSD but how I handle the triggers in the present. She gives me a wide smile and says, "Wow, seems to me you've done your work!"

Apparently, the way I present myself is more muscle memory than actually feeling in harm's way. Her advice? Put away the shield. I have the tools to walk right through those concrete walls that jump out of nowhere now and then.

At the end of the interview, she tells me that I need to stop rescuing other people and rescue myself.

What a heads up! So when I get home my clay supplies come back out of storage, my art supplies come out of storage. I will start juicing again and eating salads for dinner. I will be responsible only for myself.

Several years ago I saw a therapist for a short while. She told me then that I was a Kick Ass Warrior.
Somehow, I forgot.
The first thing I might do is to build a large paper mache warrior's shield, decorate it with some rich symbolism. While laying the strips in, mixing the paste, creating the symbols and icons, I will be exceptionally aware of my posture. I will be instilling the old posture and muscle memory into the shield. When it is dry, painted and ready for battle, I will take it out to Whiskey Creek and ceremoniously burn the hell out of it!

Kick Ass Warrior's don't need shields!

Thank You, Friends!

We had a wonderful dinner at the Cabana Club last night.

The moon rise was spectacular. The moon a brilliant red as it rose out of the horizon, becoming a glorious white as it climbed higher.

Frank and I walked into the surf and were greeted by hundreds of squirming fish, about 5 inches long. Made us wonder if there was a BIG fish in deeper water driving them to the shallows. We stepped back, out of the water!

Food was great, company even better.

A short time after midnight, a torrential rain. We were back in our rooms by then or I'm sure we would have drowned.

All in all, a wonderful evening.

I can't tell you all that we have learned from the different classes. Got to sit with a man who is a retail genius. He works with big name retailers. We discussed innovations and cultural changes over dinner and bus ride back to Sawgrass. Wow. Who knew there were so many differences between us Baby-Boomers and Millennials. 

I'm excited about today. There is a coach here who interviews individuals for some basic information, then videos a 10 minute interview. She then reviews the video with you to show you how people see you, what you can polish up, etc. I signed up for it and can't wait.

The interviews are all done in private sessions...yay for my introvert side!

So, off to put my best face on and get some coaching. Then maybe a little Starbucks, poolside! Good thing I have my Kindle. The humidity would curl a book in so many directions in mere moments.

Thank you all for your support yesterday. You're the best!

September 27, 2015

Don't Feed The Gators!

Went home after an airport fiasco on Thursday evening.

Prior to hauling suitcases back into vehicles for ride home, we sat in the plane for an hour at the head of the runway preparing for take-off (a teenie-weenie plane that Redding is infamous for).

While on the plane, we were surrounded with lots of pleasant chatter. No one seemed worried. I was thinking there was probably a family of ducks crossing the runway and we're just going to let them waddle their way across before takeoff. You see, in Shasta County we will shoot ducks but would never consider running them over with a vehicle.

Frank and I were not worried at all. We had a 5 hour layover in San Francisco before heading to New Jersey for our final connection to Jacksonville. What's an extra couple of minutes sitting on a runway,

The pilot finally announces that we are taxiing back to the terminal. Apparently there is a little problem with the computer that tracks the nose wheel function. "Just a little delay." I swear, those were his exact words. Just a little delay is okay!

We unload all our carry-ons and stroll back into the terminal.  There is another announcement that the mechanics are 15 minutes away and are headed our way.

We sit in the terminal, watching the plane. Actually, all 50 of us are watching the nose wheel.  Twenty minutes one ever approached the airplane. Nor did anyone approach the nose wheel. Not one mechanic or even stray duck ventured anywhere close to the nose gear, yet another. announcement is made.

"Attention passengers on Flight 1115, the mechanics are advising us that the parts needed to repair the problem are unavailable until tomorrow. Flight cancelled!  Also, this is final flight of the day to San Francisco!" The "Attention passengers on Flight 1115 was completely uncalled for as the only people in the whole airport were passengers booked for Flight 1115,

"Please see attendant to reschedule your flights and cancel your connections!"

Mayhem ensues! Everyone is talking or swearing. A small child begins to cry because small child's smaller sibling just bopped him on the forehead with her plastic Starbuck's cup.

Next announcement.

"Please be patient. There are only two of us to reschedule your itineraries and there are many of you!" 

Upon completion of this last announcement, the agent making said announcement promptly disappeared, leaving only one attendant to shuffle flights, hotels, connections and handle general mayhem. Disappearing woman did reappear when there were only 4 of us left to re-book, She was looking well rested. The look of relief on her face was extremely telling. I came to the conclusion that she was probably a supervisor and will be taking credit for how well the emergency was handled.

Joy! We returned home. Immediately climbed into bed  to get up in a couple of hours to return to the airport. We needed to be there at 2:30 a.m. to clear the potential terrorist processing for a 4 a.m. flight.  This process is especially joyful for me because I have a titanium knee which means I get to be searched from head to toe, including private (and sensitive) areas.  I don't mind. I know it is amusing for the rest of the crowd standing in line to watch me hold my arms out, legs spread, while my groin is made sure to be soft and not metallic and to watch my perky boobs outlined. They could at least buy me dinner or even a glass of wine after feeling me up in public!

The funny thing is after the frisking is complete, the feeler-upper puts their blue latex gloves in a box that apparently detects toxins. The toxins must not included border collie hair or baby food because the gloves passed and I was allowed to board the plane.

We landed in San Francisco just in time to meet my husband's sister and her husband at their gate as they prepared to board a plane for New York and eventually Germany, They are headed for the celebrations of genuine Oktoberfests. They were also dressed in leathers as they are renting motorcycles for their tour of Germany. The are dressed in full leathers and yet were not searched. I am a great-grandmother with a bum knee and I get searched. We'll discuss fairness in another post!

Okay, a little bit jealous. They are headed for Europe for two weeks and we are going to Jacksonville, Florida to a PGA award winning resort! Frank and I don't golf but I bet there aren't any "DON'T FEED THE ALLIGATORS" signs on the golf courses or Beer Gardens in Frankfurt!

We did arrive safely in Florida, tired and a day late. Sister and hubby landed safely in Germany.

A very tall, balding man bumped into very-tired me this morning as he carried his golf clubs to his cart. He gave me a very "how dare you get too close to me" kind of stare. Like I would purposely walk into anyone wearing yellow and purple plaid shorts, dress socks and golf shoes!

There is an open bar tonight hosted by one of the photo-world companies. I'm thinking after a couple of gin and tonics (green olives, hold the lime) that I might accidently bump Mr. Rude golfer into the apparently gator infested waterway as we cross over to our Villa. I hope the alligators don't mind plaid.

September 25, 2015

Best Laid Plans

It is 2:27 a.m. We should be just coming in to New Jersey to wait for our plane into Florida where we would be jumping into a rental car and driving 4 hours to see my husband's elderly uncle.

We should but we're not. We are just climbing out of bed in California. Our own beds, in fact.

We arrived at the airport yesterday afternoon. Waited in a long line to check in and have our luggage weighed. Paid an extra 25 dollars for the small bag. I didn't realize that when you buy an airline ticket it doesn't include luggage. Made me feel as old as a dinosaur.

Then we took our luggage over to x-ray and search. Stood in another long line to waiting with purse, shoes and books. Frank had wallet, camera bag (which must have weighed 30 pounds with all the lenses and two cameras).

Then the fun part. My titanium knee. Beep....Beep....Beep..........."Please stand over to the side, lady."

Hey, Mr. Security. You've got my ticket and license! Could you at least use my name? Or does using a personal name make it harder to shoot someone if they have metal in the body?

The Search. Spread your legs, Hold you hands out to the side, palms up. Then the little speech. I am going to be touching the upper, inner leg all the way to the top. I will ask you to lift your blouse so that I can feel around your waist band.

Humiliation complete, we continue to the waiting room to read.

Time to board the plane. We are settled in. Love the bruises from the stewardess (or whatever one call them these days) bumping into my arm 27 times. We taxi out to runway and sit and sit and sit.

Pilot announces that we are having difficulty with our nose wheel computer so we are going back to terminal to deplane and wait for mechanics.

While in the terminal an announcement is made that the mechanics will be here in 15 minutes. Twenty minutes later the announcement is made that the mechanics have decided that they don't have the parts to repair the nose wheel computer. But wait.....the mechanics never showed up. We were watching the plane all the time and no one showed up.

The flight was cancelled. Oh, by the way, the flight is now cancelled!

We have transfers to make in San Francisco, lots of them. some people are going to San Diego. some to Chicago. San Francisco is the hub of other flights to catch.

An announcement is made. The staff at the airport will help us with our connections. A woman announces to please practice patience as there are only two people to help than she disappears for 20 minutes, leaving the guy to handle the mob.

By the time we can ask if we can just drive to San Francisco and catch the flight there to Jersey we have waited an hour and a half, too late to drive and all other connections are full.

We are now on our way to airport to catch a 4 a.m flight to Chicago (via San Francisco). We will make Florida late tonight but can still see uncle but will not get there until 1 a.m. and will need to turn around first thing in morning to head back to convention.

I have a string of 4 letter words I would love to share with you at this moment but, alas, have to get in car to make it in time for x-rays and body search. Well, at least the woman conducting the search told me that I looked remarkable and no where close to "my age"!  Must be these firm inner thighs and perky boobs!

If she could only see the throbbing veins in my forehead this morning. 

The song "10 Little Monkeys" keeps going through my mind. I might be losing my sanity but at least I get to go sit on an airplane on a tarmac this morning. And really, any vacation is still a vacation.

September 22, 2015

Jacks or Better to Open

Great-grandma Daisy is on my mind this morning. Her name was actually Desideria (I believe). She was born in the late 1800's.

She was 4'11 but with a personality bigger than the Colorado Rockies.

She was the first woman I had ever seen with a tattoo and it seemed almost as big as her. Our Lady of Guadalupe was tattooed on the inside of her forearm, from wrist to elbow blend.

Our Lady of Guadalupe? You might think she was a prim and proper, saintly type of person. You would be wrong.

Great-grandma was a bootlegger. Made the best 'shine this side of the Mississippi. She carried a little pistol in her garter belt when dressed up but typically just carried it in a secret pocket in her long bloomers.

She and great grandpa built their own sod house in Chaperito, New Mexico, he in pants, she in long skirt and slips! At one point during the build she felt some tickling and itching on her belly. She discovered a six inch centipede inside her bloomers. Makes me wonder how many times she shot the poor bastard or did she just make it one clean shot and get back to work?

My great-grandfather was a shepherd, so spent many nights out in the pastures and mountains guarding the sheep from wolves, coyotes and Apaches. Daisy would sleep just inside the door of their sod house sitting in a rocking chair with a shotgun across her lap as her children behind her.

Where other women of the age would gently drink their tea or sherry, Daisy would toss a shot of whiskey back and call out, 'anti up' as she dealt another hand of 5 card stud, jacks or better to open. Better be at your best playing cards with her. She was good.

While in her 90's she went to the beach with us kids. My brother, sister and I were teenagers at the time. Our tiny great-grandmother donned a pair of black high top sneakers and played in the surf, following along, jumping from rock to rock.

I remember one wedding of a cousin in which my out-spoken great-grandmother was not particularly fond of the bride or her family. (Did I tell you, Daisy had a pretty outstanding left hook?) Seems there were some words shared, then a couple of punches and the majority of the wedding guests ended up in a paddy wagon for a free trip to the jail house. Great-grandma was proud as punch (pun intended) to be sitting with her sons and nephews as the instigator of the semi-riot. I often wondered if there was a debate whether to leave her to stew in jail overnight or bail her out and get back to the wedding to finish business!

While traveling the land of blogs this morning, I happened upon a wonderful blog about a variety of topics. One of the topics was about women who stepped out of the box ( or closet) in the 50's and started the tattooed women trend. Daisy had 50 years on those chicks. Thank you for your inspiration this morning, blogger. I'll try to back-track and thank you in person. I love your blog.

Makes me proud to come from pioneer stock and even prouder to see that my daughter and granddaughters don't live in any boxes either. They are their own selves....truly their own selves.

p.s. Great-grandpa was 6'5" compared to her tiny little frame. He woke up every morning and made her a cup of coffee and served it to her in bed while they discussed the coming days events and tasks. Through "the grapevine" I have heard that they were intimately active until his passing in his late 70's. GGMa lived well into her 90's, maybe even early hundreds...there were several years she lied about her age and we all knew better than to correct her!


Grief has been studied and dissected by many. Some say there are 7 stages of grief, some professionals suggest there are only 5 stages.

I have worked in health care for over 30 years from hospice care, acute hospital care, skilled nursing facilities and home health. My experience includes hands-on personal care to management. Several years,as a trainer, I instructed SNF administrators, nursing directors, charge nurses and staff about caring for patients and patients' families with compassion and integrity while trying to maintain the patients' dignity as best as could be done. Because of my background I have researched grief thoroughly. It was part of the job as well as important to me to help the sick and their families.

Today, I attended a funeral of a wonderful young woman's grandfather. The second "formal" funeral this year. Earlier this year the friend of my niece was killed in a horrible auto accident.

Each funeral ended up being a commercial for Jesus, as usual. Today's pastor actually invited the attendees to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior and to thank the new widow, telling her that the death of her husband of 18 years helped save another soul. To make sure his pitch was heard, he asked the deceased granddaughter to sit in the back so that her baby wouldn't disrupt his pleas for saving souls.

As I was sitting in the pew, listening to the sobs of family members and sniffles of dear friends of the man in the pine box up front and the pastor's sales pitch, the stages of grief shuffled through my mind. Seven stages, five stages, I sorted through them over and over and not once did the words evangelism pop up.

Don't get me wrong. I believe in God. My spiritual life is incredibly important to me and I might add, I believe it is rich in meaning and intimacy.  I am not dissing a belief in Jesus, or God. I am just disturbed that almost every funeral I've attended in the last 20 years seems to be about evangelism, not about the person laying in the casket or poured into an urn. Not about the family and friends bereft in their loss.

The hair on my neck raises and my my jaw aches as I imagine that the pastors of our churches get those calls from families or funeral directors that someone has just died and they jump for joy. Do these "men of God" sing, "Yay! Just got another gig. I get to sell God to a room full of aching and vulnerable people.! Thank you, Jesus!"

I came away from the funeral home planning my own funeral. There will be no preaching to come to Jesus. Amazing Grace will not be sung even if Paul McCartney or Sarah McLachlin offers their services. If my surviving family chooses to say a prayer it should start with Dearest God and end with "in Jesus's name we pray."  None of this "and Lord" and "and Jesus" and 'and Lord" and 'and Jesus we just ask" filled throughout the prayer. It sounds like a shifty used car salesman (to me) when a prayer is filled repeating names. Kind of like, "Toni, you will love this car, Toni, and Toni, I can get you a good loan, Toni, great terms, Toni and Toni, no down payment. Toni, this car is calling your name, Toni, Toni, Toni....can you hear it?"

I swear, I will come back to life and slap you....hard! Do not do that at my funeral. You can believe me, I will not be disappointed if no one is "saved" during the celebration of my full life. Remember, I'll be dead....I won't have anything left to put notches on to keep count anyway!

Tell people about the joy in my life. Tell them about the day my sister and I drew circles on our boss's binoculars so that after she spied on all the working staff she had racoon eyes the rest of the morning. Tell people how my kids and I would sing and dance when they were little. Play my favorite songs. Poems, Prayers and Promises and Let It Be by John Denver. Digame by Anna Nalick, Con te Partiro by Andrea Bocelli, Priscilla Ahn's song "Dream    Don't forget Natalie Merchant's Where I Go and Theme from Tootsie!  Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison and It's a Beautiful Morning by the Rascals, a song I wouldn't get out of bed before school in my senior year until it came on my little radio. Got to have Sarah McLachlin's Arms of an Angel!

Now, I know a couple of you religious-types are going to be worried about my soul if we don't sing about me being a wretch who was lost and now I'm found.  Get over it!

I will allow (without serious repercussions from the "other side") a favorite song from church, On Eagles Wings by Michael Joncos...just no preaching. No talking about sinning and repentence. No scary shit about sign up now or burn in hell forever.  And if any minister tells you I wanted you to be 'saved,' point your no-no bad boy finger and tell him he must have taken a wrong turn along the way because he is not at a funeral but a celebration of life.

In fact, most of you know that I don't want a funeral in a church or a stuffy funeral home. Cremate my body; if I'm not hanging around in this body anymore than I want my carbon foot print to be minimal. If you can't think of what to do with the ashes, toss them into a forest...( I prefer pine and aspen but do as you will). Have my services at Brandy Creek or Whiskey Creek (though if you find a Gin and Tonic creek or Hornitos Creek with a good beach, that might be more appropriate. BBQ, swim, tell jokes and remember how much I enjoyed my life. Encourage the everyone to walk up the creek jumping from rock to rock. Remind my kids how much I love them, not just love them, I am in-love with them. Remind my grandchildren and great granddaughter that I am also in-love with them. Family and Friends, you are a blessing in my life.

I'm trusting you all. Don't let some Pastor sneak in any evangelism.....I mean it!

September 20, 2015

"Over The Hill"

Life happens to us in steps (or from a writer's perspective, life happens to us in chapters!). Chapter 1 would be entitled In Vitro.  Your senses are tuning in. You get used to heart beats and abdominal gurgles. You start to recognize voices, music, certain movements, momma's emotional state. You experience the wonderful feeling of underwater somersaults and sucking your thumb.

Chapter 2 is all about Discovery (Part A). Hugs feel good, poopie diapers don't. Riding a bike is great once you get past the skinned knees. First crush, first car, first other-things. We graduate from high school, college, maybe even graduate school.

Got those diplomas in hand. Now what?

Time for Chapter 3. Getting Our Stuff! Get a spouse. Get a kid (or two or three). Get a house (hopefully a really nice one because for awhile you will be defined by others, and sometimes by self, by your house, your car, your clothes, your job or the size of your boobs). Sell the old junker and get a new cool car. Get a promotion. Get kudos for:
1. How well behaved your child/children is/are.
2. How smart your child/children is/are.
3. How cute your child/children is/are.
4. How cool your house is.
5. How peachy-keen your neighborhood is.
6. How cool you are in spite of the fact that you just sold your little deuce coupe for a mini-van.
7. How real those boobs look....who's your doctor?

Chapter 4: Empty Nest - This stage has some pretty specific fluctuations. I had 3 kids and found that each kid will leave the nest and return 3 times. Each time they return to the outside world they will leave with you (just for now) a dog or cat that they 'can't have in the new apartment', 'can't take on the plane' or the boyfriend is allergic to it. Boxes of discarded 'stuff' will be left at your home because the kids still 'want' the stuff, they just don't want to carry it around with them. (Don't toss this out because just before their 20th class reunion they will ask you where the boxes are so they can look up old yearbooks).

"Bye Bye. Good luck!"
"Well, of course you can come back. We always have room for you."
"Bye Bye. Good luck!"
"Yeah, your old room is still here. We'd love to have you.Spot misses you!"
"Bye Bye. Good luck!"
"Sure. Come on home. Dad will just move his fly-tying equipment to the basement!"
"Bye Bye. Good luck! Wave bye-bye, Fluffy!"

Chapter 5  Discovery (Part B)

This chapter of life is a little like a rocket launching from Cape Kennedy. The rocket blasts off, heading for the stars. To get to the stars it must shed all the 'stuff' it needed to get off the ground.

First, the rocket boosters that assist it off the ground.  Your rocket booster, your big giant home and yard that takes way too much time to care for. Jettisoned! 

Next, the boosters are dropped. Those boosters are all those extra beds, a dozen or so electric appliances you haven's used since the New Years party in 1999 and the clothes you thought you could wear if you lose that extra  4 or 5 pounds (did I miss a couple of zeroes in that sentence?)

Chapter 5 is about shedding; peeling and tossing away the physical accoutrements that you no longer find necessary to show others how to define you. You have stepped through the veil. You have come into yourself. You don't care how the 'others' define you. You get to be you!

You realize you don't have to follow old policies and procedures. You have suddenly become an explorer. Now that there are no soccer games to attend, Kung Fu lessons to drive someone to, no boss to bow to...You Are Free!

You down-size again. You find yourself putting things on the curb with a 'free' sign scribbled in crayon taped to it. Low and behold, the free-stuff fairies take it to the land of Old Free Stuff in the middle of the night.

The prized possessions you have dusted and polished for years have magically turned into non-prized and excessively dusty toss those items too.


You are now on the path to wander and wonder, to ponder and to process. Thinking becomes your newest hobby. Not the 'oh shit, what do I do now" thinking that comes with jobs, kids, insurance premium hikes and blown radiators. It is a deep, lay-in-the-shade-of-a-tree-along-the-path introspection.

As well as ruminating, this chapter of our lives offers the opportunities to learn; to study those subjects we've always desired but didn't have the time to release the passions. Learn to speak Russian, take ballroom dancing lessons, kayak down the river and camp on the shore for a week or a month. Master the art of Fencing or Watercolors. Maybe just walk along the path and see what is around the curve in the road.

There is something magical around that curve, over that hill. I can't tell you what it is. The path is there. Grab a walking stick, a backpack with a couple of bologna and potato chip sandwiches on white bread and step on to that road. Discover what chapter 5 has to offer.

Photo by Toni Tona

September 14, 2015

Synchronicities and Plums

Remember the evil Gothic chick in Wizard of Oz as she moans after having a bucket of water tossed at her?

"What a world, what a world." ....and.....she melts! Big Goth puddle on the middle of the castle floor.

The phrase, "I'm melting!" has popped into my head several times a day in the past weeks. I've even kinda-sorta wanted someone to pour that bucket of water over my head. Bought some gin, jalapeno green olives and tonic water, thinking that maybe self-inflicted melting could result from a couple of icy gin and tonics with just a bit of bite at the end. Nope. Doesn't work.

Calendar is full, not finding much time to just sit and be. When I've dared to pencil in a couple of hours just for myself, someone comes along with a big fat eraser and ink!

Wiping tears from my face and biting my lip, I wonder to myself, "Where can I cut back? What can I remove from my life that creates stress or inspires my jaw to tighten and teeth to grind!"

Facebook! Yeah, that's it! I thought I'll just close my FB page. No political bamboo up my fingernails, no insomnia inducing pictures of baby abusers and animal abuses. No non-loving religious extremists shoving their beliefs down our throats. No drama!

Yes, I would miss hearing about grandchildren and keeping in touch with friends but, maybe, dumping FB could relieve some of the over abundance of  disturbing, stress-inducing....but wait! Thank goodness that I am a procrastinator!

What is this? My favorite cousin befriends me (again). Two, yes two, really good friends from long ago make contact with me. These three men have incredibly impacted my life.

One, a cousin I just adore and love. In a dark night of the soul, he unfriended almost all the cousins and some friends. I called last week and left a message on his phone....again....and he finally responded by requesting friend status! (I probably owe the request to my aunt, who knows how much I love him. She probably threatened him with time-out if he didn't respond to those of us who love him. Thank you, Auntie!)

One, a friend of at least 40+ years; a coming-of-age buddy who would sit for hours with me and discuss life's philosophies from the viewpoint of M.A.S.H., Star Trek, a Viet Nam vet and professional college student. We played poker and discussed "Suicide Is Painless," the theme from M.A.S.H. We touch base every 15 years, or so, at funerals of mutual friends and then lose touch, again. He was and is a brilliant man with a sense of humor that only brilliance can bring.

Finally, and maybe best of all, a request for 'Friends" from another fine man. My park buddy! We both sat on a non-profit board. His spirit exudes altruistic benevolence! Another friend who is brilliant and loving. Most of all, he was not afraid to sit on the steps by the river, bottle of wine, cheese, apple slices spread between us, to discuss all things of the world as we watch the river flow.
I often thought of inviting him to scoop up the apples, while I  grabbed the bottle of wine and cheese, jump into my car and run away with me.  Instead, we discussed how to make the world a better place and he has gone on to do just what he was inspired to do. The world is a better place because of him.

As often happens, right smack in the middle of a well-deserved, knuckle-dragging despondency, I am reminded of my blessings.

I have and continue to have some extraordinary people in my life. The loving women in my book club, our old Lost Weekend crowd, the music group who sat around our living room playing guitars and banjos while we sang our favorite songs (our favorite songs that were easiest to strum).  Loving cousins who rock. Good old friends who inspire and encourage. My writing buddy who motivates me and makes me laugh.

Next time I am asked "what 10 people I would want to have to dinner to eat and make merry," I will demand a much larger venue and a table that sits at least 30. I would invite you all.

In the meantime, I will keep a good bottle of Zinfandel in the pantry, apples and cheese in the fridge, a bottle of Captain Morgan and a bottle of Wild Turkey in the freezer, just in case any of the two old friend or cousin shows up at my door.  We can talk about dreams, some lost, some realized. We can discuss music, life, mountains and oceans, kids and the state of the world. You can tell me what you have been doing while I sit thinking about what a lucky person I am to know you three men and all the other good friends I have been blessed with. Thank you Facebook, for, in spite of all your faults, you make contact a possibility.

P.S.  I will also keep some plums available, just in case!

September 08, 2015

Playing With A Macro Lense

Copyright: Photo by Toni Tona

My husband had a county fair photo contest to judge this weekend. While he was inside all day looking at the photos of others, I was outside making photos of my own.

He left his Macro lens with me. I'm afraid I went a little crazy and it was marvelous. Though, apparently, I did something wrong with the "aperture and didn't have a very wide range of field."  I do believe that is Photographer-Speak for, "Yeah, I could have done better!"

Next time....maybe. 

Copyright: Photo by Toni Tona

It is incredible how the lens catches the subtlest of colors and softens the background.  I'm straining not to lick this photo; it so reminds me of pink lemonade and champagne.

The fair grounds was alive with action and excited voices. Cowboys and 4-H'ers setting up the pens for their livestock, fair workers setting up first aid stations and rest stations and a dozen or so women watching the judging of the quilting entries. (Can I just add, the quilts were so exquisite, it was hard to believe the grinches in the audience were capable of such ladies! Smile!)

I searched out a quiet, shady lawn away from the action. Looking up at the rustling leaves as I laid in the cool grass, I found my tank filling up with peace.  Birds talked to me, the earth welcomed me to stay and listen.

Every now and then, the flowers would call. I would jump up (now you are aware that the phrase "jump up" is a wide stretch of the imagination but I am claiming writer's rights). Camera in hand, I answered the call and was rewarded for my effort.

Copyright: Photo by Toni Tona
Eventually, the judge was relieved of duties. We headed out to the Wildlife Refuge nearby and stalked said wildlife. We shot cranes, hawks, a muscrat building it's den, a flock of over a hundred white pelicans sitting along the bank of the marshes. We flushed out pheasants, a roadrunner and some chubby birds that my husband called "Chuggers" (remember, he was tired from leaning over hundreds of photos all day, so I just agreed with him).

Our cameras were too slow to shoot the pheasants, roadrunner and so-called chuggers or maybe we were too excited to remember to click the buttons.

Kind of nice to put the cameras down now and then and just enjoy the life that surrounds us!

We found a blind where we could sit quietly with our cameras and watch the birds without being noticed. Funny though, the birds made a wide circle far from the blind. Maybe they were thinking how ignorant the photographers are to think that any self-respecting fowl is going to be fooled by a big giant brown building in the middle of yellow and green reeds.

Copyright: Photo by Toni Tona

I discovered, with the help of the macro lens, that daisies petals shimmer in the sunlight with a florescent glow and that cranes make a tent with their wings when they dive for a fish.

Copyright: Photo by Toni Tona
  It was a good day.

Good food, good play, good conversation and wonderful company.

Thank you for a wonderful weekend, my love! 

 Just a little warning to all the little fishies in the west end of the marsh: This guy is a serious fisherman....go east, young minnow, go east.

Copyright: Photo by Toni Tona

September 02, 2015

God Says

There is a sentiment shared in our world when bad things happen to good people. We often say to each other, "God never gives you more than you can handle."

Two weeks ago, my son told me he was going to put a sign on his desk at work that read:

"God Never Gives You More Than You Can Handle
God Must Think I'm A Real Bad Ass!"

I'm getting that tattooed on my body somewhere so I can see it every day. I'm thinking God thinks our family and dear friends are filled with Bad-Ass Survivors.

It's like we've been hit by a crap load of stuff and though it's been over a short period of time, it feels as if 'fit hit the shan' all at once and it hit hard.

My dad was hospitalized with a severe case of Sepsis. If you know anything about sepsis, 87 year olds usually don't fare well with it. It was scary. Mom's reaction to it was scary. 

While Dad was hospitalized an uncle of my ex died in San Jose, a very dear man who had always treated me kindly. I truly loved him and am still good friends with his daughter.

Yesterday, my niece, who is 3 months pregnant, had an ultra sound to measure baby's progress. The baby is not alive. She was told to expect a miscarriage at any time. 

Also, yesterday morning, my mother's sister passed away. Talking to cousins and aunts and uncle this morning was immensely sad, especially when my father was in the hospital at the same time and is now home, safe and sound, better than ever.  

My brother just sent a note that the best English teacher in the world, Mr. Bill Tarr, passed away. My friend's father was admitted to the hospital last night and not expected to walk out.

The list goes on with other major/minor items that would depress me to suicidal depths, but surmise it to say, God thinks we can handle a lot!

Now, all things added up and as dark as it seems, our family is still extremely blessed. Everyone I talked to today exuded love. We are there for each other. We are strong. We have shoulders to lean on. 


A Chaplain came into Dad's room at the hospital to check on him his last night. My sister and I were sitting in the room. and had been there most of the four days he was hospitalized. 

The Chaplain greeted Dad by his name and expressed his joy that Dad was being discharged in the morning. Dad thanked him and then started to introduce 'his two daughters' to the Chaplain.  The Chaplain's smile grew wide and he said, "I've met your daughters and they are not well behaved!"

All I can say is that Bad Asses don't have to behave!