Ojai Today

We are settling into our time here at the Orange grove in Ojai. Time is slowing down as it does the minute we get here and all pressing “have-to’s” simply drop away. Instead, there is a lot of sitting and chatting and generally doing nothing until it’s time to think about the next meal. That meal has a basic requirement: quick and relatively easy. This is followed by more sitting and chatting.

I did have to work with one student today. She has a December 1st deadline on two essays. She lives in Woodland Hills so we agreed to meet at a Starbucks halfway between Ojai and her house. We spent four and a half hours crafting a compelling scholarship essay and also a “Why BU?” essay. Both turned out very well, particularly the scholarship essay. It feels exceptional, which, of course, is the goal. Fingers are crossed.

Below are two pictures. One is of our campfire tonight and the other is of the moon.

Sleep well

my friends. I will check back


First to LA and Now Ojai

Ray and I are now in the Airstream in Ojai after a brief stop at our home in LA to gather up a few provisions and our dogs. Our rush since we just flew in this morning from the Lone Star State?  We have friends from Texas arriving tonight with our second Spartan trailer (1953) in tow.  

This is Scott and Amy Ellis and their three girls, the same people who were kind enough to bring out the Airstream from Texas for us last summer. They again are making a vacation of the trip. I believe they have already visited Carlsbad Caverns and the Biosphere on this trip. We are grateful because Scott is one of the few people we know who is willing to pull a 35 foot trailer half way across the U.S.  That makes it great for us and , hopefully, a memorable family vacation for them. 

We are expecting them around ten tonight. We will help them get hooked up and settled. I imagine they will be pretty worn out since that trip is long. They left last Friday  afternoon. In fact, they left Sherman before I even arrived there for my weekend visit. A rather strange sensation since I would look over at their house and say to Ray, “Scott and Amy are heading to see us but we are here.”  Alas, we live in the era of the jet plane. Amazing in some very real ways. 

The Ellis family will join our family and a few friends for our holiday gathering here in Ojai. We are trying out a camping Thanksgiving. It should be interesting since we have our relatives from Utah coming, plus our kids and then some of their friends. Lots of fun. I am thinking we will see how a turkey cooks in our camper stove. Like I said, this could be interesting. My son-in-law has already volunteered to bring a ham. Probably a wise choice for the meat eaters in the crowd. Just in case…

I hope all is well with you, dear reader. If you know quick and easy recipes that can be made for an outdoor gathering, please share. 

I will check back in with you tomorrow. 

          From the Summer Trip  

Fort Worth, DFW and Tex-Mex

Ray and I are currently sprawled out on a makeshift pallet on the floor of the Fort Worth condo. Our plane leaves at 7 am and we are heading in that direction at 4:30 since we have to return a rent car and it is DFW, which means a huge airport and a very long bus ride from the rent car center to all the terminals. Let’s just hope the security line isn’t too long. 

Ray is feeling better. He is already asleep and actually not coughing. This is a great improvement. We both might get a better night sleep tonight. 

Tonight we ate at Blue Mesa restaurant here in Fort Worth on University. I can highly recommend this Mexican food spot. The green sauce is wonderful and they have grilled vegetables that are worth the trip all on their own. I had a chile rellano that was filled with yams and goat cheese instead of all cheese and it was delicious. Also, I had a spinach enchilada covered in green sauce that will keep me coming back every time I am in Fort Worth. Not to go on and on, but Blue Mesa also serves fried sweet potato chips along with tortilla chips. That might be a good enough reason to go right there. 

Here is a picture of the chips. Sorry, no photo of the main meal. I forgot until it was too late. 

Happy Sunday to you.  I hope you’ve had a good day. 

I will be checking back in tomorrow. 

The Big Country (1958) and Ray

Today Ray was not feeling well so we spent some time watching movies on television. The Big Country (1958) was one of those movies. It stars Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Carrol Baker, Charlton Heston and Burl Ives.

I have to say that Burl Ives commands this movie with his performance. I didn’t know until afterwards that he won an Oscar for his portrayal of a rough and tumble rancher who is in a water war with his neighbor.

I have included a video clip of Ives at the beginning of the movie. A wonderful scene, but only one of several that are noteworthy. One of his last scenes made me tear up with emotion, something I didn’t expect.

I looked this movie up on Rotten Tomatoes. It has a 100% from film critics and a 90% from audiences. I would rate it an 8 on a 1 – 10 scale. Definitely worth your time, particularly since Ives’ performance is so outstanding.

Ray is feeling slightly better. Many people we’ve seen so far here report a bout with this same low-grade illness that Ray is experiencing. Cough, congestion and a general feeling of yuck. Someone says it lasts about four days. I think Ray is on day three now. The end might be in sight – of the illness, not Ray, hopefully!

It’s going to be 32 degrees here early in the morning. I guess winter is actually coming in the near future.

Talk tomorrow, my friends.

Sherman, Fort Worth and Daughter Sarah

It is 12:42 am here in Sherman, Texas – 10:42 Pacific Time – and we just arrived at our house here about 45 minutes ago. We worked in Fort Worth all day on the condo, got stuck in Fort Worth traffic on our way to Sherman in early evening, then arrived an hour and a half late for a gathering of friends at the home of Darrah Dunn and Shann Schubert. At one point in the traffic when we were inching along 35W in Fort Worth at 6:45 pm, I actually thought we might miss the party altogether. Luckily, we made a quick switch and came an alternate route, Highway 121 North, which made all the difference.

Now we are here and I can hear the train whistle in the distance. The clock is ticking as well, and Ray is watching television in the next room. He is feeling a little sick – congestion and a cough – so he’s already in bed. I am still on Pacific Time so I am wide-awake. That’s actually good since I wanted to write my blog for today.

When we were at the condo today, I couldn’t help but think about our oldest daughter Sarah’s years at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine since we bought this condo for her when she started there. Those were some tough years for our girl; living so far from the family, and facing all the stresses and strains of medical school. She and her future husband met exactly one month before she left for Fort Worth from LA so their long distance relationship was another factor in that stress. Sarah, who had been a long distance swimmer in high school, painted her bedroom swimming pool blue while she was in medical school. “Why this color?” I asked when we came to visit. “Because when I swim laps, this is the color I see and it’s calming.” Of course, that makes perfect sense – a great calming device and coping mechanism.

Here is the room and the color:



I was thinking today about how hard this girl (young woman at this point) has worked over these past several years now. She not only made it through medical school, but also had our darling baby Luna, and is now a second year resident in Family Medicine with another baby on the way. Sarah works long hours and then comes home to be a wife and mom, and then goes back and works more long hours. She tends to be quiet and focused and doesn’t call a lot of attention to herself. She just gets the job done day in and day out. It is not unlike that long distance swimming – lap after lap in that blue pool. The good news is that she goes on maternity leave in a little less than a month with the baby arriving in early January. I am glad that she’ll have a few weeks to rest before our little grandson enters the world. Then she’ll be home for a while before returning to finish up her residency. I look forward to spending more time with her.

So, here’s to my sweet oldest daughter. She is a jewel in every sense of the word.



We are coming to the close of a chapter with the preparation for the sale of this condo. Here’s to all that is to come.

Here is a picture of Sarah, Gregorio and Luna at Halloween.

s, g and l

Fort Worth

Ray and I are in Fort Worth so we can work on a condo we own here. The long term tenants just left and it is time to put it on the market. We will be headed over there tomorrow to work and also meet the realtor. 

This is a quickie trip. We are returning to LA early Monday morning. We will also briefly be at our home in Sherman this weekend before heading back down here to finish up the work (we hope). 

Apparently a cold front is arriving this weekend. Temperatures will dip down to 28 in Sherman on Saturday night. Happy to see we are Just in time for some real fall weather. 

Heading to bed now. There is condo work awaiting on the morning. 

Sleep well, my friends. I will be checking back in tomorrow. 


Leaning-In Here in LA

As I ran errands around the neighborhood today I couldn’t help but note that everywhere I went – to Box Brothers for packing materials for eBay sales, Pavilions for a few groceries, BOA to deposit checks – that people were especially friendly. An older man at Box Brothers told me all about the exceptional clam chowder he’d just eaten at a nearby restaurant; a middle-aged man in line at Pavilions teased me about being “height-challenged,” then pointed out the next open register at self check-out; a young man at the bank flashed a big smile when I apologized for bringing my dogs inside despite the sign on the front door since we have a new rescue who couldn’t be trusted outside unattended.  He assured me it wasn’t a problem and then handled my business transition in less than a minute.

We are talking LA here, my friends, which on many a day is not the warmest place on earth. People are generally not openly rude, but simply too busy looking at their phones to engage in conversation. For a second I thought I was back in Texas, particularly with the fellow at the grocery store – the “market” in LA parlance. I actually thought I detected a Southern accent, which might explain at least in part his friendliness. But the real question is, “What is going on?”

I think the answer is obvious. We are all on high alert given the events of the past few days and have decided we need to act a bit more neighborly towards our fellow humans. After all, we live in a city that could easily be a target and perhaps even an area of the city that is more likely to attract unwanted attention. In fact, today’s morning traffic was blocked up on Sunset for miles because of a bomb threat on Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights, and last night when returning from my ceramics class in Hollywood, I pulled over for literally 12 police vehicles that were racing off to some location between Santa Monica and Hollywood Boulevards. I could see the red lights flashing everywhere as police blocked the streets. I haven’t learned what happened, but clearly it was more than an auto accident.

I would like to think we Angelenos are all just happy that the hot weather has finally broken, the gale force winds have calmed down and the smell of autumn is in the air. However, I truly believe it is more than that. I believe we have recently been reminded on several counts of just how fragile “normal” life can be and, as a result, are feeling compelled to make a few more human connections than usual.

That’s my theory anyway.

What I do know is that it is a welcome change. A little shared humanity never hurt a soul. In fact, it might just make all this added tension a bit more bearable.