McDonald’s Parking Lot

I am sitting in a dark McDonald’s parking lot stealing their Internet.  We are up in Ojai and I just can’t get Internet in the orange grove.  McDonald’s just closed, hence the dark parking lot. Two guys are talking a distance away.  I can hear bits of their conversation: “Guess where I ended up?” “Then he literally apologized…”  Voices dipping low then getting louder.  Lots of sharing, these two guys. Good to hear such intimacy.

I have been uploading critiques to my online writing class, that’s the main reason I am here at McDonald’s at 11:13 on a Sunday night.  My online Flash Fiction/Flash Memoir class has one more week.  I needed to get these done plus upload the Week 5 lesson plan because my students need their feedback.

We came up to Ojai today because Sarah and Gregorio wanted us to go with them to look at a 1977 camper trailer in Ventura.  It needs work, but, overall, it is perfect for their family for the orange grove.  At $700, it was also the perfect price.  So, we hooked it on the back of the Landrover and pulled it up to Ojai. They will have a good project to work on, but I think it will go fast. Soon they’ll have a cozy spot where they can come with no advanced prep. They can just drive up and open the door.

So, Ray and I are staying the night.  Heading home early tomorrow since the temperature is forecasted to go up to 99. Yikes. Isn’t it almost November?

Okay, I need to close.  Time to head back and crawl into bed.

I’ll check back in with you all tomorrow. Until then, here’s hoping life is going well for you. If not, take a moment and breathe.  That always seems to help, at least, a little bit.


Wedding Bells Are Ringing…

I am pleased to announce that daughter Elizabeth and her boyfriend Ron let us know today that they are now engaged to be married.

We are delighted to hear this news since Ron has been an unofficial member of our family since he and Liz met on their first day of law school.

Here are two pictures a friend of theirs took today right after they made this decision.  Their faces tell the story much better than words ever could.

Here’s to a long, healthy, happy life together filled with adventure, prosperity, and love.

Ron and Liz



1st of the Deadlines Looming

My high school senior writing students who are applying early decision and early action have been coming in and out of my house for the past few days, one after the other.  Two brothers came tonight: one from 7 – 9 and the other from 9 – 11:30.  That is not because of my schedule, but because they are also balancing water polo games and school assignments while applying to colleges with extremely early deadlines.

I had a few other students who came this week for the first time in their college essay process.  They have November 30th and maybe even January 1 deadlines. That is a lot different than the earliest of the early: November 1.

Alas, those students who have had a shoulder to the grindstone will experience relief long before their later-deadline counterparts.  They will be skipping through school in a little over a week with wide grins on their faces, feeling a bit discombobulated after so much intense work. But then the reality will set in and all that pent-up tension will start to release as they realize their applications are in and there’s nothing much else to do but wait and see.

As for me, I will feel the satisfaction of having one group well on their way and a second one marching forward with their own excitement and intensity.

This is a major life change for these kids – finishing their elementary, middle and high school years and now heading off to college.

I feel happy to be included in this journey.  It is a sweet and special time.




Grandbaby Day

Today, Ray and I went out to see our grandbabies, Luna and Nico, after our ten days away on our trip.  We also got to visit with Rachael who was taking care of these two sweet kiddos until Sarah and Gregorio arrived in mid-afternoon.  Nothing makes me happier than getting to spend time with all my kids, whether they are officially mine, partners to my daughters or my grandchildren.  Of course, we missed seeing Liz, Ron, and Ariel, but, hopefully, we’ll be able to rendezvous with them soon.

I got to surprise Luna at her preschool at 1 pm when Rachael and I went to pick her up.  How wonderful to see her eyes light up when she spotted me and to hear her telling her friends, “My grandma is here!” Yes, nothing quite as sweet as that in all the world.

I had students beginning at 5 so we had to head back around 3:40 because of traffic.  I just wish I could have stayed longer, but I figure a short visit is better than none.  We are not due to leave town again for quite a while.  Hopefully, I’ll get an overnight stay with those little guys fairly soon.

As for now, I am heading out with the dogs and then to bed.

I’ll be checking back in with you all again tomorrow.


Nico, Rachael and Luna


Back in LA

Ray and I woke up at 2:50 this morning so we could take a Lyft at 3:30 to O’Hare Airport for a 6 am flight. We both slept on the plane, but not very comfortably, and then Rachael picked us up at LAX.  I didn’t realize just how tired I was until halfway home when Rachael said, “Mom, you need to go straight to sleep when we get home. I’m getting tired just talking to you.”  I did just that. At about 11 am, I went upstairs, took a bath and then went to sleep.  Ray woke me up at 2 pm with a cup of coffee in his hand.

My workday started at 3 pm with me sitting in my chair in the den with my computer on my lap and headphones on my ears.  I worked with a client on editing suggestions for his book for an hour, then spent two hours with a high school senior on his film program college essays.  From there, I had an in-person two-hour session with another high school senior who has Early Action college essays due next week.  Now it’s 8:45 in the evening and Ray has been upstairs for a while. I suspect I will find him sound asleep since he stayed awake this morning and afternoon, catching up on his work.

Day One back from vacation has had its ups and downs…

I plan to finish this post, walk the dogs (who I’ve missed over these past ten days) and then go to bed.  I suspect I’ll feel a bit more normal by tomorrow.

Hope your day has been a little less sleepy than mine.

I’ll check back in again tomorrow.los-angeles-airport-1024x336


Last Day in Chicago

This has been a great trip.  Lots of quality time with our friend Shireen, an unexpected visit with Brit, several days at the Art Institute, the trip out to Plano, Il to see the Farnsworth House and time today at the Illinois Technical Institute, University of Chicago, the Robie House, and downtown at the Chicago Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve Bank.  I have clocked almost 20,000 steps today alone and have traversed up and down 20 sets of stairs.  Tomorrow, we leave here at the ungodly hour of 3:30 am to make our 6 am flight back to LA.  I have students late tomorrow afternoon and evening.

I am going to include a few photos to show the diversity of the art and architecture we have experienced this week.  This is only a taste of this Chicago experience because we also had food I haven’t mentioned, a 24-hour rain storm, lots of talks with Shireen, some great reading and tv watching time and even work and tax preparation time. This has been a full, fun and happy week.  Of course, I am grateful for Shireen for offering us such kind hospitality.

Here are a few photos that capture a smattering of our time here in the Windy City.


Flash Fiction, Memoir and Essay

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