Friday, November 30, 2007

Long Lost Cousin

Are you ever sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic and then get behind a car that stops maybe 100 yards behind the car stopped ahead of him? I feel such anxiety when that happens to me. I want to shout, "It's called bumper-to-bumper traffic! Please drive up to the next bumper!" I am terrified that thirty cars will squeeze in between them causing me to be later than I already am.

I think I have a long-lost cousin that might be one of those drivers. I can't be sure but I'll tell you what happened when I told him to follow me to the freeway ramp.

"As soon as we get out of this neighborhood, we'll be turning left on to a busy boulevard. There will be four lanes with lots of hotels and shopping centers and restaurants along that street. "

He stands there listening to my every word, nodding and making hand gestures, convincing me he's got it memorized. "Once we get on that boulevard," I warn him, "we'll drive along for about a mile. Continue to follow me until we get to the first intersection, and at that light, I will wave to you, and turn right... but you just keep driving straight and that will take you directly to the highway."

He nods and repeats my directions back.

We pile into our cars. I wait for him to adjust his mirror. Put on his seatbelt. Turn on the heater and maybe adjust the radio dial waiting for his favorite song to come on. Finally he inches out away from the curb, braking a bit too hard at first, his head jerking toward the windshield... and eventually he begins to follow me.

We are only four houses away and we're clearly still in the neighborhood when I turn right heading for the busy boulevard when I notice in my rear view mirror that he thinks this must be his sign to keep driving straight. So he does!!!

Now I have to lasso him back in.

I do a quick turn around but it's not quick enough and I'm unsure where he went. I drive down the street and after about a minute, I think I might see him driving ahead of me. I don't want to speed through the neighborhood so I follow him until he gets to a stop sign and I catch up. I jump out and motion for him to turn around and follow me back into the neighborhood.

Startled to see me behind him, he finally understands what I am asking him to do and he swings into someone's driveway, backs up and he's following me once again.

Finally I get him onto the busy boulevard, but instead of going 35 mph, he is going more like 10 mph. He is about 100 yards behind me and even though I keep dropping my speed considerably, he is a long way off. More and more cars are passing him up and coming between us and I no longer can see him in my rear view mirror.

I drive through the green light but he doesn't make it, so I pull to the side of the busy boulevard and wait for him. (This is the intersection where I was supposed to turn right, but fearing it'll confuse him, I decide to stay on the boulevard and take him personally to the freeway ramp). About 3-5 minutes later, I can see his car crawling along the busy street, so I put my blinker on, believing he'll see me and let me in front of him so he can continue to follow my lead, but he doesn't recognize my green bug and doesn't let me in. He passes me by. Now I hafta wait for another few cars to pass before I can edge back in. Now I'm about six cars behind him and I need to figure out how to manuever my way around the traffic to get ahead of him again to show him the way to the freeway.

By the time I make it in front of him, I am just 50 yards from the freeway on-ramp. I put my blinker on to enter the ramp. Clearly, he can read the signs now and follow the directions but because he sees my blinker turning right to get on the ramp, he waves goodbye and honks To0OT! To0OoT! and continues on down the boulevard thinking I'm at the intersection I told him about earlier.

It is too late. I am now getting on the freeway toward his hometown and he is still slowly puttering along the boulevard happy and unaware of his mistake.

I hope this isn't the case, but I'm worried that he's still driving down that same boulevard. If you happen to see a blank expression on a man's face driving extra slow ... not reading any signs... perhaps sporting a beard now, please point him in the direction to the freeway. I think that might be my long lost cousin.

Monday, November 26, 2007

My mother's update

Thank you for letting me know about your warm thoughts, concerns, and prayers I received through personal email and on the comments!! The surgeon doesn't think there is any cancer. The second pathology report will be sent to Stanford for a second opinion though it looks clear. They took the two masses out. She still has her thyroid and her voice. And her life.

We are so grateful. A truly wonderful ending to the Thanksgiving weekend.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Illustration Friday: Zoo

I had a really fun experience creating artwork for the various sets on The Rockimals. These signs in particular were some of the zoo signs they asked me to draw. The last time I was at the san francisco zoo was about 15 years ago and I couldn't remember what zoo signs looked like.

Do they tell fun facts? They should if they don't! I got these facts off the internet.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving holiday

Thanksgiving Day in San Francisco was as lovely as it can be.

Driving along Skyline Boulevard, the air was so warm and there was even barely a snippet of a breeze at Sunset Beach. People got out of the kitchen and wandered up and down the sparkling sandy beach watching the spray of the waves. Even the Golden Gate Bridge looked like the Macy's parade with so many people walking across it. Well. Without the Snoopy balloons and the enormous Shrek and Kermit the Frog and marching bands, of course.

I was so happy to be there. I have spent most of my Thanksgiving holidays here in this amazing City.

Only a few days ago, my mom got scheduled for major surgery for this upcoming Monday. It seems so quick. A bit unsettling. Feels so quick.

On Tuesday she got results from her biospy on her thyroid and missed my Uncle Don's service to meet with her doctor. They scheduled her for surgery a few days later. The next day, she had a physical exam, blood tests, etc done in pre-op. Then yesterday on Thanksgiving, we noticed her right leg was swollen. I measured it and it was a good solid extra inch thicker than her other leg. Was it a blood clot?

We didn't know. And there was no way, she could go through surgery with a blood clot, so when we arrived home last night, I took her to the emergency room.

We hung out and had fun together. Chatted about our day. We eavesdropped inbetween the closed curtains. So much commotion.

They kept saying it was a slow night.

My mom and I joked, "just wait til they finish their Thanksgiving Dinner... then they'll come in!" And d'ya know? They did!

They showed up in droves! The waiting room was full when we left there just before midnight!

As it turned out, she has arthritis in her knee. It's tough getting old, but we were all relieved it wasn't a blood clot.

Today she went in for her MRI.

Tonight I'm about to leave to eat taco salad at my sister's house. Chelsea is up from Irvine and she leaves to drive down i-5 in the morning.

It's been such a huge year of loss for me and my family.

I appreciate any of you who read this to send warm, positive, healing thoughts toward my mom during her last-minute scheduled surgery on Monday, 11:50 am, Pacific Time. I love her more than anything.

I'm taking the day off and will spending that day at the hospital with my sister and brother.

We've had too much loss this year. We are only focused on winning. Thank you for your warm thoughts and good well wishes.

You carry me.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Serving Burgers

Okay. So, I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I misunderstood the fascinating author John Elder Robison being interviewed on the radio this morning. I believed him to say he grew up with Ass Burgers. Can you imagine? I LOVED that! Who can resist, tuning in and hearing that remarkable life story!?

Did he grow up in a family of cannibals? Were his parents burger chefs that enjoyed butt meat more than anything?

He said he didn't have many friends. He felt socially awkward and didn't know how to act around his peers and became more shy and withdrawn. He was not comfortable looking at someone in the eye when he talked. Instead, he turned to look away or look down at the ground.

I continued to listen to his story and my heart broke hearing his shame from eating those ass burgers during a time I grew up eating and (very much enjoying) rump roast ... which is still my most favorite meal today.

"Don't feel ashamed!!" I wanted to shout to the radio. "That could have been some really good ass burgers!"

Now I feel ashamed. As it turns out, he didn't suffer from ass burgers, but Asperger's.

I went online and google-searched his name to read more about his burger story -- only to discover what he was really talking about.

It's a syndrome that makes him feel lonely and isolated and withdrawn lacking in empathy toward others. On the other hand, it also makes him very visual and it gives him the ability to focus on something for hours and hours at a time. He also has a remarkable memory.

He talked of being 2-years-old visiting his grandmother in Georgia , sitting under a rocking chair and in his memory, he can still feel the cold concrete underneath him and hearing his grandmother say, "Little John Elder! Keep yer fingers and them toes away from those rockers, ya hear?" And he still remembers the feel of the sharp pebbles and the sand on her driveway under his feet and the smell of the red clay as if it were yesterday.

Isn't that incredible!? Well, it can be. That vivid recall can be good or bad depending on your memories.

I have never heard of Asperger's until today.

But I found it fascinating and I think I know some people during my life who has lived with "ass burgers" too.

I want to read his book one of these days soon. (Once I finish reading Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and Schulz And Peanuts. It could take me awhile. Didja know it took me more than a year to read Fried Green Tomatoes? ). Don't cringe!

I'm embarrassed to admit I'm much better at reading PEOPLE magazine than I am of a novel. But I am working toward a goal of reading one book a year. (I just don't want to over-commit).

I tend to enjoy more active and interactive situations than sitting under a well-lighted lamp reading a book in silence by myself.

I don't know if that means I have Attention Deficit Disorder or Dyslexia, but I do know I certainly don't have Asperger's Syndrome.

Just thinking about that, made me hungry. And, I thought of what I would give, to eat a Rump Roast Dinner tonight.

And guess what? I did! I think it was a better cut of roast than the actual rump, but Kelly and Matt invited me over for a roast dinner tonight that Matt actually cooked up!! It was delicious. And it didn't cost me a cent. THANKS KELLY AND MATT!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Show and Tell

There are so many talented people in this world. Miranda is one of them. She lives in Austin and made this adorable quilt out of the various fabrics I designed.

Friday, November 16, 2007


My uncle Don died this morning. He was my dad's older brother.

I visited him last night. Before I could enter his private room in ER, I had to wash my hands, put on latex gloves and hospital gown tied in the back. He was sleeping in a medicated state. He looked more peaceful in his sleep than he did earlier this week when I visited him while in tremendous pain.

I stared into his sleeping face and could see my father in him. And his mother, too. When I wasn't looking at him, I would stare at the monitor that would sometimes remain flat-line for a moment or two before zig-zagging up and down and I wondered if he would die while we were there, holding his hands. I knew his life was nearing it's end.

I found it comforting that I could feel his warmth through the plastic in my gloves. His life still beating inside him.

I wondered if my dad was nearby in the spirit to welcome him in the afterlife. Surely, his wife Patt was there. She died ten years ago in the room next door in the very same emergency room. His son died earlier this year. Such a huge sorrowful loss in this family.

My mom and I and brother and sister and her boyfriend circled around his bed.

They talked to him. Stroked his forehead. They were so comfortable and natural with him. I just stood there feeling shy and clumsy and at a loss of words. I hoped he knew I was there. That perhaps my presence, though silent, could be felt more louder than any words I could utter.

It's been quite the year of loss.

He is the 14th person I know who has died this year already. Since the beginning of October, I know eight people who have died. Eight!

Another uncle of mine died on Halloween. I've lost two cousins in the Spring. My sister's boyfriend lost his father a few weeks ago. One of my mom's dear friends died the week before that. Too many lives lost. Death doesn't seem to care. It's just plucks people out at random.

Like the woman I knew who died unexpectantly this past summer. What was supposed to be a joyous occasion of giving birth to her first child, she had an unknown heart condition and died of a heart attack during labor. Her unborn son also died in the process. Leaving behind a grief-stricken husband and her family there in the birthing room. How does one deal with that weight of loss?

Her voice is still on my answering machine. I can't bare to listen to it, but I haven't been able to push delete yet, either.

It's just too final.

My heart goes out to the Wallace Family and I'm wishing Tracy an extra dose of love and grace.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rainy Days

What I've got they used to call the blues
Nothin' is really wrong
Feelin' like I don't belong
Walkin' around
Some kind of lonely clown
Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down.
(The Carpenters 1971)

I wonder why that is with me. Why weather holds such a strong hold in how I feel about my day. It's raining today. And whenever that happens I tend to feel all lopsided and out of sorts.

My heart swells up and the gray skies makes me feel lonely for those I love. I feel vulnerable. I want to run to those I let down and beg them to forgive me and plead them to be my friend again. "I'll be better!" I promise to them in my heart.

I just feel so needy when it rains. And vulnerable. And alone. It's like when the rain flows from the skies, it is tears to me; my own.

I remember being a kid and I didn't mind the rain so much. I loved my shiny yellow rain jacket and putting the hood on over my head and the bottom patch covered my mouth. And do you remember the rain boots? Some called them Galoshes. Remember how hard it was to pull them off your shoes? I would hafta sit down and pull them off with both hands, grunting and squealing and heaving.

I loved the rain as a kid because that meant we played recess indoors.

It also meant that my mom would be there parked at the curb in front of our school, windshield wipers moving quickly in our Ford station wagon, waiting to pick us up. I'd run to her... feeling warm and loved and cared for.

I walked to school every day but my mom in-grilled it in my head that if it was raining, to wait for her. She'd be there. And she always was.

Nothing felt more comforting than that. We'd pass other kids walking down the sidewalk all hunched over trying to cover up from the rain while I sat in a warm car feeling dry and loved, listening to the motion of the windshield wipers scraping back and forth.

I took this photo a block from my house. Three young girls making the most of this rain. It made me stop and laugh and remember how rain doesn't affect the young. They make the most of it.

I will make a mind to do the same. That is my mission this year.
It's all up to me.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

It's just a Paintin' Place

I have been busy.

I spent the past two weekends painting my house. From morning to dusk. And guess what? It always takes so much longer than we expect it will.

I can't tell you how many countless hours I have spent standing across the street and visualizing painting my house. I see it happening in my own mind's eye and from the beginning to the end, I can pretty much accomplish painting the exterior of my home in about three minutes. But. I forget the detail. The behind-the-scenes of the gutters. And the straight line precision of painting under the porch's ceiling. It always takes more time and always double the amount of time of what we think originally. (Double?!?! Maybe ... Quadruple!!)

I used a snake ladder for the most part. (unlike the photo of me where I stood on my $5 garage sale ladder). I would lean it against my home and test the ladder's stability twice before i made the venture upward.

I would dip my brush into the can and then climb my way upward to start painting. After about 15 seconds, my brush would dry up, and I would venture downward to dip my brush and try again. Climbing back up and then climbing down and then climbing up and then climbing down. Sometimes, I would hafta clip away plants away from my house so the ladder could stand there or so I could paint the trim. I was a gardener and a painter.

I feel good tonight. Sore. Yes.

But, after all this was done, I drove to my mom's house to feed her cat as she is away. Then I went to the grocery story to buy food for dinner. I mowed my front and back yard and washed dishes. And while cooking my dinner, I swept the floor. And then swiffer-mopped it. Added new sheets to my bed and donned a lovely bubble bath with candle light. I have been busy. But I also feel good.

It's a perfect Sunday night after all.