Thar She Blows!

Before today, I’d never been whale-watching.  This seems incredible since I grew up in Washington State, close to the Puget Sound where orcas swim.

It could have been Seattle today here in Southern California.  Yesterday, it was sunny.  Tomorrow, it’s supposed to be sunny.  Today?  The clouds threatened to rain.  The wind blew turning all the ungloved fingers red. It was cold.

I brought a wool hat that a blog reader knit for me.  (Best birthday gift ever, all those years ago!)  I wore the kind of gloves that look like mittens until you flip back the end and then they are fingerless gloves.

(I love her hair.)

We’d been out in the open ocean, maybe five miles from shore for an hour and fifteen minutes.  Some moms were leaning over the railing throwing up, but I was taking photos of  the shimmering sun on the waves, bummed out that we weren’t seeing any whales.

And then, the captain got all excited and told us to look at “one o’clock” and though I looked and looked, I saw nothing.

Time passed and my nose grew colder and then, suddenly, he told us the whale was at “eleven o’clock”. I couldn’t see it because I was on the wrong side of the boat.

But then.  The boat turned, the whale surfaced and I saw it!

So amazing.  Even the captain–who told us his dad built the boat we were on when the captain himself was in kindergarten–he was excited!

These were fin whales, the captain said.

And amazingly enough, not a drop of rain fell while we were on the boat.








The story

Stop me if I’ve already told you this.  I have to set the stage.


Every morning, my 1o-year old and I walk Lola the Dog.  I crawl out of bed, pull on my exercise clothes, brush my teeth and put on my glasses.  I do not look cute during these walks, but who cares, right?  It’s not like the paparazzi are waiting for me.

This particular morning, I completely forgot to grab a plastic bag to clean up after the dog.  But honestly, the dog rarely does anything requiring clean-up during her morning walks.  She saves it for the back yard.  I don’t know why.  Who am I to question my dog’s digestive system?  It doesn’t matter.

Except for that particular morning.  All the sudden, she paused, hunched her back and . . . did what dogs do.  Only, Lola the Dog does not like to admit that she’s doing That Thing so she continues to move away from it, disavowing anything that happens at her back end.

I watched with dismay because my pocket was empty.  No plastic bag.

We were far enough from home that I didn’t want to go back to get a plastic bag.  But I couldn’t just leave the mess on someone’s lawn (and driveway).  I decided to walk a little more, then turn around, go home and get a bag so I could come back in the car and clean it up.

I am a responsible dog owner and I would never in my wildest dreams just leave It there.

So we walked some more and as we walked I wondered how I could get a plastic bag.  I was peering into cars by the road, looking in the gutter, wondering if someone might have an accessible trash can.

Then I realized that a lot of people’s newspapers were still sitting in their driveways.  The papers were double-wrapped in plastic bags because it had rained the day before.  I didn’t want anyone to think I was stealing their newspapers, so I hesitated, but finally I took a chance and stripped the outer plastic bag from someone’s newspaper and we hurried back to clean up the mess.

As we approached, I realized with horror that a mom and dad and several kids were standing in front of the house.  From a distance, it appeared that they were studying and discussing the dog poop sitting on their grass and driveway.  I was mortified.

We got closer and I saw that they weren’t actually staring at the dog poop, but I smiled and announced to the mom and two of the kids, “Hey!  I’m here to clean up my dog’s poop!” Nothing like pointing out your idiocy and lack of preparation to a stranger.

As soon as I spoke, I realized how I sounded and looked.

I kind of babbled about forgetting a bag and stealing a plastic bag from someone’s newspaper and how I would never, ever not clean up after my pet and she said, “Oh, we’re having  a fire drill,” and then she directly looked at my daughter and said, ‘Hi, I’m Mrs. ____________.  What’s your  name?” and my daughter answered and I thought, “Hmmm, this lady seems like a school teacher.”  And then I thought how nice she seemed.

I carried my dog’s  poop home with me and that was the end of that.  I haven’t forgotten to bring a plastic bag since.


My 10-year old daughter started taking an art class at the local homeschool co-op.  The first day, we arrived at the last minute and she took one of the last open spots in the classroom.

Afterward, she told me that she’d starting chatting with the girl next to her and they discovered that they both lived very close by.  In fact, the girl lives in the neighborhood just down the street from us.  The girl’s mom gave my daughter a business card with her address and email on it.

“The mom looked so familiar to me,” Grace said.

I asked a couple of questions but I instantly knew the mom was the same lady who caught me sneaking back to her yard to clean up dog poop.

I emailed her and said, “I think we’ve already met.  I was the one who came back to your yard to clean up dog poop and you were having a fire drill.”





Seventy-five percent of my children have a cold.  The only one who does not has a broken collarbone.

So it was inevitable that I caught it, too, very much against my will.  For one thing, today is (was?) my birthday.  I am too old to catch the common cold.  (Ha.  Don’t you wish?)

While walking the dog this morning and discussing my age, my 1o-year old daughter pointed out, “Both of my parents are elderly.”  I laughed out loud.  Then, encouraged by my reaction, she intoned, “My parents will be pushing each other around in wheelchairs at my wedding.”

Oh!  That child makes me laugh.

I had a quiet birthday.  My husband and I went to lunch where we used up a $25 birthday credit.  I love a bargain, so that felt quite satisfying.  Then after lunch we came home via the route along the coast.  The sun was bright today, so the water was such a beautiful deep blue color.

And now I’m taking my sore throat to bed where I hope to ignore it and sleep.

Also?  I don’t really mind my age, but I’m kind of mad at the whole idea of getting old and dying.


I have a story to tell, a silly one, but it’s really late already, so that story will have to percolate until tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s an unrelated, random photo from a few weeks ago.  (My daughter is on the left and my son’s girlfriend is on the right.)







Snap, crackle, pop

Even though today was a holiday (Martin Luther King Day), I had to work because I was covering a shift for another employee who is on vacation.  So, that was a bummer.

After work, I folded some laundry and made my bed and frittered away a small block of time.  Then, at 4:15 PM, my daughter and I headed to soccer practice.  I brought along the 1,200 page novel I’m reading.

Halfway to the park, my cell phone rang.  Unfamiliar phone number.  Strange.

“Mom, I just broke my collarbone again.”

I said, “What?”

And he said, “I just broke my collarbone again.”

I said, “REALLY?”

And he said, “Yes.”

My husband had just dropped him off at the field to practice lacrosse, so I called him and told him he’d need to go back and take our boy to Urgent Care.  Only he didn’t know where that was and before I knew it, I’d turned my van around and returned home to transfer my daughter to my husband’s car so I could drive twenty minutes the other direction to pick up our son.

And so  my son and I spent the next three and a half hours at the Urgent Care.  He was quite cheerful and resigned and funny.  I was just trying to avoid catching the flu while waiting impatiently, wishing for a footstool and reading my novel.

In the x-ray image, I saw the same collarbone that I’d seen last September, with a break in the exact same area.

So, no more lacrosse for him this year.

Instead of getting a sports physical on Wednesday, he’ll be seeing an orthopedic doctor sometime this week.

He’s pretty disappointed and I would be insensitive to admit how relieved I am that we won’t have to manage five-days a week practices and weekend traveling once the season begins, so I won’t mention that.  He doesn’t seem to be in much pain.

I wish I could think of a clever way to end this post but I am much too tired.

The end.

And today I mailed out Christmas letters

Yesterday, I wrestled my three-part fake pre-lit Christmas tree into its box and taped it closed before it could spring back out.  I felt a great sense of accomplishment. I hope it still lights up next Christmas.

Then today, I sent out sixty-five Christmas letters.  Because I am prompt like that.

It’s been cold here, dipping into the thirties and even twenties at night–which is very cold, indeed, for San Diego.  I actually slipped on ice the other morning while walking the dog.  But today it was glorious and warm, a little warmer than seventy degrees.  I would have liked to recline on a chaise lounge in the sunshine except for two problems:

1)  I don’t own a chaise lounge.
2)  I didn’t have time to recline.  I was too busy stuffing Christmas letters into envelopes, thinking how silly it was to even send anything this late.

After the letters were ready to send, I drove Grace and Lola the Dog and the envelopes to a mailbox which is weirdly situated on the side of a road near the dog park.  Then we went to the dog park where Lola the Dog pranced and raced and greeted more people than dogs. My daughter greeted every dog she could, especially the Corgi which is her current favorite breed.

After the sun had set, we returned home and I cooked a quick dinner.

At any rate, it’s no longer Christmas around here, just in case you were wondering, and in fact, this week it looks almost like summer, especially by Seattle standards.


Furtive admission

You know what’s worse than trying to figure out what you’re going to be when you grow up?

Helping someone else try to figure out what they’re going to be when they grow up.

Perhaps other mothers of growing up children will understand this terror.  Or perhaps I am the only mother who knows what I mean.  So many mothers I know have growing up kids who are on the traditional path to adulthood.  Mine are not, so far.

Moms of new babies compare notes, mostly as a way to brag, I think.  Is your baby sleeping through the night?  Did your baby roll over yet?  How many words does your baby say?  Have you figured out how to wean your baby?

And other mothers chime in because babies can’t read what their mothers say on the Internet.

Those were the days.  So much simpler and so much easier when the future was beyond the horizon.  Now the future is about to barge through the front door without so much as a polite knock.  So rude.

Shoo, fly, don’t bother me

What is up with super high heels?

Does anybody you know in real life actually wear them?

I see them on television all the time (perhaps I watch too many Real Housewives).  The women are hobbling down the sidewalk and I just don’t get it.

I do remember when I was a young teenager–maybe even a pre-teen–and I owned a pair of ridiculously high platform sandals which I wore with–as memory serves–“suntan” pantyhose and a polyester skirt.

But when I was young, I thought fashion mattered and I didn’t care about being unable to walk.

Now, I just want my feet not to hurt.  I want to be able to walk without tottering.  Won’t there be plenty of time to totter when I’m an old woman?

Can you imagine a man enduring the stupidity of these impossible shoes just so his calves would look more shapely or so he’d look taller and, therefore, slimmer?

Listen.  I’m already 5’7″.  I don’t need to be six feet tall but I do need to be able to balance while I walk.


The Frumpiest Woman in Southern California . . . but my feet feel fine, thanks for asking


I intend to send out Christmas letters soon.  Maybe tomorrow.

Here’s the problem, though.

First of all, the two weeks prior to Christmas were so busy.   Three different employees took time off for the holidays which meant I had to cover their shifts personally.  Because of that, I worked 104 hours the two weeks prior to Christmas.  Plus, I had a house-guest.  Plus, there was the whole thing about Christmas coming, which meant decorating and buying gifts and making the magic happen.

So, I didn’t write the letter early.  Or even on time.  But I wrote it.

Then, I had to collect updated addresses from a few of my nomadic friends.

After that, I decided to create a new address data base on my computer.  I used to have one but that was an old computer and I lost all that information in a computer crash a few years back.

So, I typed in all the addresses, adding in the updated ones I’d acquired.

Now, I want to use the power of the computer to simply print out mailing labels, but first I will have to figure out how to do that exactly.  I have the labels.  I have the computer.  I have the addresses all typed in.  It’s just a matter of time.

Time keeps on ticking and my “New Year’s Letter” will be a “Valentine’s Day Letter” if I don’t get it together and quick.

Doesn’t it seem like Christmas was a million years ago?  My denuded Christmas tree is still in the living room, waiting to be wrestled into its box.

But let’s contemplate sand castles built for the holidays at The Hotel del Coronado, shall we?

(I don’t know those people in the background but they wouldn’t move along.  Rude.)

The beach at Carlsbad

I took some of the kids to watch the sun set tonight.  The pelicans were swooping over the waves, following the leader.  I love pelicans, don’t you?

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