Always My Baby

Paris called on Saturday morning and said she wanted to come home.  She boarded a SW flight a few hours later, and by 4 o’clock she was in my arms again. Even though, she’s eighteen now (it’s her half birthday today), she will always be my baby.  

When I pulled up she was standing curbside in a cream colored fur coat and a pair of clear orange sunglasses. Her body language and demeanor prove that she is a strong and powerful person in her own right now, and obviously no longer a baby in any sense of the word. 

I’ve watched her over the past year demonstrate tremendous strength and determination.  I wish I could say that I’ve seen major strides as she’s faced adversity, but honestly, she has always been this way.  A person of character; confident, smart and a very beautiful soul with a powerful intellect and sense of justice.

She has essentially not changed a whit since the first day of pre-school when the other little girls wouldn’t let her play house with them. She told me that she didn’t care because she wanted to be President of the United States instead.

Hold fast to your dreams…

Love and blessings to all.

 

Teens & Drinking

My precious daughter, came home from college and she wanted a glass of wine. Then, her little sister wanted one too. As I didn’t have that much wine, I gave them each an inch.

I remember fondly my evenings in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada with my mother’s beautiful family. My uncles were much younger than my mother who was the eldest of twelve. So, at every family gathering there was always music, alcohol, friends and often a trip to the clubs downtown for more drinking.  I found myself in bars with my aunts and uncles when I was fourteen. My mother’s little brother was only ten years older than me, making him 24.

One of my favorite girlhood memories is of drinking champagne with my mother’s little sister, Ellen, when I was six. We sat on the sofa in her beautiful three story home in North Vancouver, and she gave me the tiniest aperitif glass full of pink champagne.

Refusing my eighteen year old daughter alcohol feels conservative in comparison, but there was also alcoholism in my family, and the consequences of those addictions were not as pretty as the people who had them.

I’ve never been someone who could drink very much. Days on houseboats where people drank all day were not for me. I’ve always abhorred bars, crowded places, and drunk people in general.

Now, that my daughter is in college and the holidays are coming up, I find myself in uncharted water.

Let me know your thoughts on this topic. I welcome any insight. Please comment below.

Love and blessings to all.

 

563 Miles Away

Austin and Paris, Los Angeles, California, Halloween 2017

I left my precious daughter in Los Angeles in September to start her first year of college. I’m relatively calm in these types of situations as I’ve endured a great deal of loss, so I walked away from her relatively dry eyed. The next day, my younger daughter injured her knee in a soccer practice. This incident resulted in my 16 year old daughter needing ten times the care of my two daughters combined the year before. 

I’ve been distracted by doctors visits, surgeries, and driving the little one around again. Because of this, it is only now, that I am beginning to feel the absence of my eldest. 

Paris has left a giant hole in my life. I miss her, I even miss her boyfriend, who is appropriately named, Austin. My girls and I share city themed first names, thanks to my late husband. When I resisted these names, he would offer alternatives like the name Brenda, or his favorite Billee-Joan, the combination of both of our mother’s names. He was a very funny guy. Eventually, I acquiescenced to the city names, but for the record it was not my idea. The nameology suits us now that we don’t go everywhere together acting as a walking geography lesson. 

This morning, I called and texted Paris without a response, but it was before noon on a Sunday, so I didn’t panic, however, I did locate her in her dorm room on Find My iPhone. While doing this I discovered she is exactly 563 miles away.  

Recently she sent me a photo of her Halloween costume. And, by the way, Austin is not in costume, he really is a basketball player. When I got it, I realized for the first time, in a real way, that she truly does now have a life that I am no longer a part of. I don’t get to weigh in on what she’ll wear or help her get ready, or anything else. None of it. Even as I trust her to make wise decisions and care for herself, I miss being there for her. I miss sitting on her bed watching her put her makeup on in front of her mirrored closet doors. I even miss how bossy and demanding she often was. All of it. 

Thank goodness for the little one. 

Love and blessings. 

How Ocean SF Built the Brand 

My daughter Siena in Ocean SF – Merino wool fleece jacket, cotton shirt and silk scarf
I’ve had an interest in design, and the environment since day one. Growing up with horses as a kid on a farm in the Willamette Valley, then later as an avid skier, and now as a sailor, I’ve always been drawn to the outdoors. 

And, at Ocean SF we truly seek to protect and enjoy the beautiful environment we have inherited.  Recent studies have shown that microfibers from polyester clothing is a pollutant that cannot be filtered from drinking water. Not only that, these particles, are also found in the delicate flesh of oysters and other fish on the California coast, this is not a problem for just the United States, it is worldwide. 

We also wish to work toward the reinvention of the bespoke clothing industry of the past. Where garments were made with care and were not disposable.  

We now live in a culture that is no longer enamored by the previous mindset that adored the ease of care and low cost of plastic based fabrics.  

Ocean SF is a brand for sailors first and foremost, because we seek to prove our technologically advanced fabrics in the most challenging environment possible, off shore, but our clothes are for everyone. 

Please join us in preserving our oceans and buying only what we need. 

Love and blessings to all. 

Margarita Pizza

Handmade Margarita Pizza
On Friday, I got the big guns out, after my daughter who recently had knee surgery refused to eat anything but, donuts and candy. My chicken noodle soup could not compete, so I had to get creative.

I made her favorite soup (recipe to follow), which she enjoyed for two seconds, and then went back to the pounds of candy delivered by friends. Being desperate to get her to eat something more nutritious I made her favorite pizza.  

Making pizza is fast and easy, but you do have to stay close to the kitchen, and keep an eye on it as it cooks. I had enough dough for two, so while they were baking I made her a white lasagna (recipe to follow).

Note: The oven must be well preheated and very hot. 

Margarita Pizza

Pizza dough (Whole Foods)

3 tablespoons tomato sauce (any kind)

1/2 oz. extra-virgin olive oil

2-4 ounces fresh mozzarella (small balls)

4 to 5 basil leaves

Instructions:

  • Let dough rest for half an hour in a warm place. In the meantime, preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Rollout dough with extra flour on stone. Place a pizza stone (or cookie sheet, but grease with olive oil) to warm in the oven.
  • Roll dough with a rolling pin into a circle. Spread the sauce using the back of a spoon evenly across the surface, stopping approximately 1/2 inch from the edges.
  • Cut each ball in half and place evenly and gently on the sauce. 
  • Place onto the heated stone or tiles in the oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, approximately 4 to 8 minutes.
  • Add fresh basil. 

Make as many as you have time for, as these disappear magically. They can also be eaten cold, or reheated with excellent results. 

Surgery & The Northern California Fires

I knew there was a problem when I went to bed on Sunday night. I saw the report on my iPad that there was a small fire in Napa. The wind was howling outside, and I could hear my beautiful Birch trees hitting my house and windows.

The wind was also tapping the blinds against the windows down the hall. Even though, it was a warm night, I walked around the house closing all the windows. 

I remembered, my market umbrella was up, and I went outside to close it. Later, as the winds picked up further, I went back into the darkness and pulled the entire umbrella out of the table and left it on the patio.

By morning, smoke was in the air, and my pool was full of branches. However, I had other things to worry about because my daughter was having knee surgery the next day. 

I called the surgeon and asked if I could pick up the prescriptions that day, so I wouldn’t have to leave my daughter after the surgery. Without her Dad around, and no reliable family to help, I have to plan ahead. 

In the morning, I ran all the errands, and got gas, and went home to get everything I could done before the next day. 

My wooded acre of land was a mess, but the winds were still dropping branches and I had other things that took precedence. My business partner was in LA with our Sales Director in meetings for Ocean SF, and I was either on the phone with them, or texting them and our pattern maker, who had been evacuated from her home in Irvine. 

In the end, our neighbor Dan, had made a list of everything Siena needed, and showed up the next day with her favorite foods and drinks. During surgery he waited with her at the hospital, while I went to the pharmacy, and picked up her perscriptions. 

Meanwhile, around me Northern California is literally burning down. Beautiful Calistoga a place of tremendous beauty and tranquility, has been reduced to ash and rubble. 

This has been the theme of the last year or so, and I have become a master at focusing with military precision on one thing no matter what else is going on around me.  It’s possible, I inherited this quality from my father, a decorated war veteran, but it’s something I wish I didn’t need. 

My daughter has been slow to recover, she’s not bounced back as expected.  She has been in a great deal of pain, so much so that I’ve been on the phone with her surgical nurse off and on for days. We’ve had to try several strategies to help her, and maybe today will be the day she turns the corner.

I lie next to her at night, and let her squeeze my hand. While she sleeps, I secretly check the Internet for the status of the fires. I close my eyes and pray for recovery of my daughter, the fire victims, the brave emergency response teams, and myself. 

The second surgery to repair her ACL is planned for November. Initially, the date was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, but I moved it. On Thanksgiving, God willing, we will be sitting in our cabin in Truckee watching the snow fall.

Love and blessings to all. 

The Shifting Winds

After a stressful day of knee surgery and a rocky recovery, I went to bed early with my daughter and patient. 

After the Napa fire had shifted late yesterday afternoon, the smoke cleared, but this morning the smoke was back and thicker than ever before. Everything smells of smoke now. 

In the early morning I went outside to skim the 20 pounds or more of redwood branches out of my pool from the high winds the day before. The sky is grey, but the sun filtered through the dark smoke turned orange. 

I filled in a few cracks in my skimmer, ran my pump, and added some shock and clarifier to return the pool to clarity after clearing out all the debris. This literally took hours, but it’s calming to be in rythym with the water, the net and the redwood needles and branches. It takes  patience and skill to retrieve the small particles from the bottom of the pool with a brush and a net.

Then, I worked on my taxes. In between, I ran up and down the stairs, caring for my daughter, talked on the phone with an old friend in New York, and made homemade chicken noodle soup. 

The sky is still thick with smoke, but I feel like my own personal skies have cleared. It’s easier to get things done now. 

After months of grief where I had to force myself to get the mundane done, things come easily now, even the things I dislike doing the most are quickly completed. 

I feel like the winds of change have shifted, and the dark cloud that has hung over me for so long has lifted. 

Love and blessings to all. 

Hiding My Light

When my kids were small, it was in fashion to parent in a way that brought out the brilliance in every child while honoring their unique talents. For me, growing up the opposite was true. I hid my brilliance, my light, my authenticity, or whatever you wish to call it.

My relatives didn’t sit in their rooms reading Chekhov or Dostoyevsky for fun. My relatives were boisterous and charismatic. They could tell jokes, and they didn’t want to work for Lobbists and change the world. 

As a kid, I felt it was important to fit in and not draw too much attention to myself.  There was a definite “we” in my family, a party line, and a host of secrets to go along with it. 

When I graduated from college, my mother told me that she was surprised that I had graduated. When I asked her why, she said she didn’t think I was smart enough. I can’t blame her, as I skipped most of my high school classes to hide out painting in the art room, or to read novels in the library.

My mother encouraged me to get an M.R.S. degree and was astonished when I abruptly broke up with my long term college boyfriend a few months shy of college graduation. 

I married late, and when I had children, I quit my lucrative career, and hid my intellect again. Looking back, I can’t believe I did this. The only thing I can attribute it to is that I fell in love with my family.  

Now that I am on my own again, I love staying up all night reading philosophy, or learning anything new. I love working and starting companies and nonprofits that can change the world. 

My children are so much like me that this truly is the new normal. I encourage each of them to shine as brightly as they can.  There are no secrets. The children tell everyone my embarrassing stories, and they take countless photos of me, eating, or sleeping, or driving, and post them on Snapchat. 

I don’t care. 

I am as much as I possibly can be, my truest, brightest, most authentic self.

Love and blessings. 

Love & Relationships

As I take care of my daughter after knee surgery, I remember an incident when a close family member of mine came to my home after I had surgery.

I have a rare lung disease, and am now in remission, but for a time I was not. And this family member stole all of the pain medication I needed to help me recover from having my neck cut open and parts of my lungs removed.

On my second day in recovery, my close relative left me with one pill out of thirty.

When I called her, and asked if she had taken my drugs after visiting, she insisted it was my 17 year old babysitter, who had taken them, and not her.

No one can ever say that I’ve not been forgiving. I trusted and believed my close relative and distanced myself from my beloved babysitter.

Later, I saw the truth, but I still forgave and allowed this harmful person in my life.

“Family is not necessarily your blood. We are raised to think that but sometimes our family lets us down and we end up creating a new family for ourselves. Family is the people you can rely on, people who won’t judge you, people who have your back, people you can trust, people who are loyal.’

– Madonna

Love and blessings to all.

Being Excellent Where You Are

Occasionally, I will tell my kids how much I disliked being a stay at home mother.  And this really upsets them, but what would appear to be a luxury to one person, can be torture to another.

Often, my friends who worked full time will tell me they did what I did, and also worked. However, they did not. I will not go into how I turned myself inside out being the Junior Highschool recycling garbage monitor, teaching literature to sixth graders, or ironing our pillow cases with the lavender water I made from the lavender I grew in my garden, and so on. Because those things are unimportant, but what I did do that was important, was to listen to the hopes and dreams of the generation of children that surrounded me during those years. 

When my daughter was being bullied, I would go to school and have lunch with her in the cafeteria. No one noticed because I was there so often people thought I worked there.  I did everything from tutoring to weeding the school garden. I even played my violin for my daughter’s classes, most people don’t even know that I play the violin.

I taught embroidery to both girls fifth grade class. We embroidered covered wagons on canvas, during the pioneer history module, but mostly I talked with them while teaching them to sew with a needle and thread. The first year, I met a little boy named Albert, and he would sit on my lap the entire hour I was there. He was one of my favorites.

Working at a paid job has a predictable pace, and most projects a beginning, a middle, and an end. And you can take a break at lunchtime, and eventually go home at night. Motherhood for working and nonworking mothers alike is another matter all together. 

Nothing in my life, before or since, took more from me as a person, or was as physically and emotionally demanding as being a stay at home mother. 

My house was as clean as a whistle, not some days, but everyday. I often hosted after school pool parties for twenty-five. I made my own play dough and my own pasta from scratch with Italian flour that I bought at a special grocery store in Napa. So, clearly I brought much of this on myself. 

Now, I rarely make my bed, and cooking means I grill chicken, and toss it into a salad at 8 p.m. And, I get a second chance to return full time to the work I love. 

After the way things turned out, I’m happy I took the time to create a warm, peaceful, and beautiful environment for my family and many friends. 

Those days now feel like a dream. It’s as if I was an entirely different person then, however, being excellent at what I did helped to create many happy memories that laid a solid foundation for my children. 

After their father died, I told them often that the past predicts the future. And, although it might be hard to believe, they would one day be happy again. 

And so it goes.

Love and blessings to all.