Now I become myself. It's taken time, many years and places...

 - May Sarton


the desert and the ocean

Dad and his sister Ginny, Santa Monica, 1940ish

After visiting a week in Arizona with family and friends, we returned Sunday night to the wide welcoming ocean and the tiny house filled with books, music, and tea, that we call home. Yesterday was spent upacking, doing laundry, going for a much needed run in the sunny breeze and restocking the fridge with favorites from Trader Joe's. Somewhere along the way I opened Faulkner's, Light in August, and surrendered a couple of hours to it.

Our time in Arizona offered smeared pink lipstick sunsets, crowded conversations around my mother's dining room table, and slumber in the bedroom where the lavender floral wallpaper I chose at age nine still remembers me. Desert rains bestowed the purified scent of baptized greasewood and sage. My mom's daily crossword puzzle habitually kept on the kitchen table for all to contribute. A visit with siblings to my dad's grave where exclamatory palo verde trees were shouting yellow. Spiny crimson tipped ocotillos and hollow saguaros also filled in the desert landscape. We removed the faded artificial flowers someone with good intentions had left by the headstone as they seemed anathema to his deep appreciation of nature. Back at the house I studied those five giant pines swaying in the front that he planted from five gallon containers when I was a little girl roller skating in the carport. I remembered the echo of our silly knocks back and forth on the wall separating the bathrooms as we got ready to go somewhere.

This beachside neighborhood of ours was also my dad's home once. He grew up one street over in a house with his mother and sisters after he lost his own father. He and my aunt brought me here one time, almost twenty years ago. I couldn't believe they had lived so close to the ocean - a dream for a girl from the Arizona desert who fancied herself a mermaid. I like to think he'd be happy to know I'm here now. I like to think he may have had something to do with it.


notes for future camping trips


Don't even bother with gluten free marshmallows, bring brownies instead.

Flip flops in the shower are a must.

If your really looking to get away from it all, midweek camping rocks.

Squirrels will eat tulips. They don't care what you say.

Check out a library book about the constellations.

Pack lightly.

Reserve a campsite with good hammock trees.

Always bring scrabble.

Learn to use your DSLR already, so you don't miss those bluebird shots the next time.

Savor it all.



butterflies, bees and a transient ladybug

Yesterday Bud and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. Thirteen years is long enough to recognize how fortunate you are to still have butterflies for the one you love. It's long enough to have experienced your share of silly arguments, to have taken a night train from Calcutta to Delhi, and to have made a new home on each coast too many times to count. It's long enough to have held hands while taking in the splendor of the Sistine Chapel, to raise a dog family, to turn your beliefs inside out, and to sense the tone. It's long enough to understand how blessed you are to have one another to count on, to accept that luck has had a lot to do with it, and to realize how very naive you were when you married. It's long enough to have comforted one another through losses that seem to change your very chemical composition, to watch your first chapter of adulthood come to an end, and to have eaten some pretty great pizza together.

To mark the occasion we walked over to Main St. for lunch at a favorite Mexican restaurant, stopping along the way to meander through the open gates of the community garden. The recent rains had given way to a day with clear blue skies that demanded to be taken seriously. We marveled at the cabbage, dahlias, and brightly colored cosmos; the flower Spanish priests grew in their Mission gardens in Mexico. Butterflies slowly sunned their wings on yellow poppies. The bees were numerous and we studied their work in quiet reverence. A ladybug affixed herself to Bud's shirt and remained there for hours until we ushered her to a new spot in a potted geranium at home. After lunch and a salty-strong margarita for me, we dropped by our favorite used book and record store, leaving with Mary Oliver and John Coltrane. The thrift store nearby offered a needed thermos for our next camping trip. As our day came to a close we rented a tandem bike for the first time and rode along the beach path to Mailbu where we sat and laughed at the pelicans dive bombing the waves for fish.  

Thirteen years is long enough to know you want more time.






I celebrated turning 40 at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood as I have a real fondness for old hotels steeped in history. This one was built in 1927. It has welcomed F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jim Morrison, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Hunter Thompson, among numerous others. The song Hotel California by the Eagles is rumored to be about the Chateau and the hotel's motto is, "If you must get in trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont." More recently it was the setting for Sophia Coppola's movie, Somewhere. (I haven't seen it, anyone else?)

Our time here was more cozy than crazy. We stayed in an ivy covered garden cottage on the second story filled with sunlight. In the tiled kitchen there was a 1940's stove and refrigerator and french doors opening to a small terrace with a bistro table and chairs. Behind a 30 foot wall of bamboo, chlorine blue sounds of laughter cascaded through the open windows mixed with the scent of recent rain. I was over the moon to discover a clawfoot cast iron tub and took my share of tangerine-eucalyptus infused soaks. Rave was equally enthusiastic to come upon two sunning cats in the garden and maintained an orange level of alert on each outdoor excursion thereafter.

The birthday cake above was a surprise from Bud that delighted me to no end. It was a gluten free chocolate cake with alternate layers of chocolate ganache and raspberry fillings. It was accompanied by vanilla bean ice cream and a glass of pink champagne on ice.

Thank you so much for all the thoughtful birthday wishes!




today was:

storm clouds and sunshine

a slow easy run in the grass along the shore

chasing Rave and his stuffed pink hippo through every room of the house while laughing like a lunatic

a mug of lemongrass tea and the writing of Irish poet and philosopher, John O'Donohue

gratitude for rich friendships, old and new

beginning a delightful e-course entitled The Art of Living Cheerfully by the ever enchanting Madelyn Mulvaney (ooh, it's good!)

discovering two treasured cards and a package in my mailbox

lunch delivered by my favorite vegan cafe

followed by the florist dropping off these cheery orange beauties

a winsome beginning to a birthday week

 May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.

~ John O'Donohue