Final Hours of Cross-Country Trek

We have been driving since 6:30 this morning. It is now 10:55 pm. We have another hour to go before we arrive at our Texas home. We started yesterday at two pm. We had planned to leave at noon, which would have sped up getting out of LA. As it was, we added another hour to the 24 hours of driving by waiting those two extra hours. That is why now we are out on this lonely two lane highway between Wichita Falls and Sherman, Texas following the lone pick up truck that is out here with us. 

The night sky is full of stars. We are listening to “I Want  to be Sedated” on the radio. This is after hearing hours of national news. Plenty of that. Please, bring on the music. 

We have had a good trip so far. Weather was colder than we expected or dressed for in Arizona and New Mexico and we had a little rain, but nothing of note so far. If this pick up ahead of us just keeps leading the way, we should be just fine. 

I just saw a sign that said we were eleven miles from Gainesville. That means we are almost in home territory. Gainesville is in the next county over from Sherman. The county seat of Cook County. Yes, this means we are almost there. 

Ray seems wide awake. That’s good. Appears our pick up is now turning. No worries. We know the way home. 

I will check back in with  you tomorrow. 

On the Road

11:05 pm

Just arrived in Williams, AZ.  Windy and cold outside.  Too chilly for the shorts I was wearing while walking the dogs.

Resting up for an early morning drive eastward.

Ray and the dogs are already asleep.

I better join them since I’m the primary driver.  We need me rested for this long trek.

I’ll check back in tomorrow, my friends.

Good night.archway-pics-001-1024x680

Wrapped in Love as MC Today at St. Thomas the Apostle

Today I was Master of Ceremonies at the 10:30 Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle, Hollywood, which means that I was responsible for making sure that everything and everybody (acolytes and clergy) were where they were supposed to be during the service.  This is the hardest position as an acolyte because you have to know everybody else’s position (what they’re supposed to do) so you can provide guidance, plus there is a whole role during the Mass for the MC as well.  So, after a busy work week, plus keeping grandkids overnight, plus a very busy day after church which involved late Saturday night cooking for daughter Rachael’s belated birthday celebration, I arrived at church feeling a bit stressed.  It didn’t help that I hadn’t been MC in at least two months so the multitude of duties was veritably swimming in my head.

Luckily, I brought my handy-dandy checklist of before-Mass duties, which Reece Thompson, our head acolyte, had provided (thank you, Reece!) so that was very helpful. Plus, I arrived early enough that there was a quiet time between services and I was in the sacristy and the church alone.  St. Thomas the Apostle is a lovely Gothic church which feels very much like the sacred place it is.  The peace that inhabits that space began to seep into my harried thoughts and I felt my shoulders begin to relax.

What really helped me to breathe deep and calm down was the kindness and support of my fellow acolytes and our clergy.  Randy Williams, a veteran MC, took the time to answer my questions regarding some of the choreography that I was required to do.  Howard Gaass, another veteran, reassured me he would be right there if I needed any guidance during the service.  Walter Johnson, our beloved Deacon, told me just how happy he was I was there to serve as MC, and our rector, Canon Davies, teased me (as usual) about how hopeless he was sure I’d be in my post. (That translates from him to me as,”I love you and I’ll help if you start to head in the wrong direction.)  The crucifer and the torches were so sweet and supportive, I found myself getting calmer and calmer.  In other words, I felt surrounded by love.

I can’t say my performance was perfect, but it was certainly good enough.  No major gaffes at all and only a few minor moments when a friendly voice would whisper, “Do this next.”  All in all, a lovely and loving experience.

When people wonder what is good about organized religion when there is so much that is clearly bad, I would have to point to a day like today as an example.  The love that I felt represents the absolute best of what faith organizations have to offer.  A place where people see you, accept you and support you.  Not that St. Thomas the Apostle is perfect; we are not. We, like any place where flawed human beings come together, have all sorts of failings and sometimes get it quite wrong.  But not today, not for me.  Today I felt wrapped in love.  Thank you, my friends, for such kindness.

Here are some of the very special people who helped me today at church:

Reflections on Grandparenthood


Our grandkids are visiting.  Here we are in the backyard for some play time and then on a walk around the block with the dogs.  Nico had to take a rest on the walk.  I guess those little 15-month-old legs get a little tired always running and climbing.

It occurred to me today that I never had a relationship with grandparents when I was growing up.  Well, there was Mom’s mom, Winnie Waugh, but by the time I came along as the 5th out of 7, she was pretty old and cantankerous.  What I mean is I never had the sort of loving relationship Ray and I have with these kids.  I know many people have wonderful memories of their Grandma or Grandpa.  They speak so lovingly of them.  I was always avoiding Winnie Waugh’s cane that was often raised in my direction.  She never hit me, but, clearly, we were not cuddling together watching a movie like Luna and I were this afternoon.

I can only imagine what a stabilizing force a positive relationship with grandparents could be. I can see how comfortable these children are in this house and how they already have certain expectations when they are here.  Luna expects to play with play doh at some point and also tinker toys.  She has a “house” out in the back yard that is an open space surrounded by plants that is all hers.  She and Nico both know that they will always have a bath when visiting Grandma and also it’s likely we’re going to take the dogs for that trek around the block.  Grandpa always reads bedtime stories to Luna while I get Nico settled in the other room.  More often than not, Luna and I are going to bake some sort of honey-sweetened dessert, such as cookies, a cake or a pie.  She has her own apron that she wears when we cook.  Nico toddles around in the kitchen when we are baking, mainly petting Cordelia and Frankie and pulling toys out of his special drawer.

I wish I had some better role modeling for steadfast grandparents.  My mom was a good grandmother to my kids in a more formal way.  She visited always at least once a week and she was calm and interested in them when she was there.  She did not take them for overnights.  She just wasn’t that kind of grandmother.  Ray’s parents were actually quite active grandparents.  They took our kids on overnight stays and the kids loved going there.  Ray often says they were much better grandparents than parents, and I’m certain that’s true from the stories I’ve heard.  Sarah and Liz have good memories of them; Rachael was only three when we moved to California so she has fewer.  I’m glad my kids have happy thoughts associated with their grandparents.

It is now time for me to head to bed since I suspect we’ll have an early morning tomorrow.  I already have the kids’ clothes ready for them when they wake up.  We’ll be rushing a bit since I am the Master of Ceremonies at the 10:30 mass, which means we’ll be leaving here by 9:15.

Here’s to grandparent/grandchild love. Who knew what a treat this side of life would be, particularly when it comes to enjoying these little ones.

We’ll talk tomorrow.

Up in Ojai

Ray and I are up in Ojai for the night. We have some work to attend to here tomorrow so it will be nice to wake up surrounded by oranges trees.  The dogs are with us. They, of course, think it is a grand idea that we are here. 

The sky is clear tonight and the stars are bright and white. I am always astounded with the number of stars that can be seen with the naked eye. Beautiful!

The wind is blowing tonight. That makes the air smell so fresh. 

I am now headed to bed. Good night, my friends. We will talk again tomorrow. 

Dinah’s for Rachael

We (Ray, Liz, Ron and I) picked Rachael up at the airport tonight after her flight from Miami and went to Dinah’s Family Restaurant, located at 6521 Sepulveda Boulevard. This is a LA googie landmark, along with Pann’s Restaurant, and for those of you who watched The Big Lebowski, this is the diner that is featured in the movie.  Dinah’s has been around since 1959 and is famous for its oven-baked pancakes and fried chicken.  I had grilled chicken tonight with carrots and a baked potato and it was a solid meal at a reasonable price.  Ray had a turkey burger he said was excellent.

Rachael seemed pleased with her impromptu birthday dinner even though she was tired after a cross-country flight.  Still, I expect she, along with Liz and Ron, will be revisiting Dinah’s in the future.  Pann’s is my favorite googie restaurant, but this runs a close second.  I plan to try the fried chicken next time since it is supposed to be a special formula that doesn’t use oil.  Can’t wait.  Ron had it today and said it was really good.

I am happy Rachael is back in LA, safe and sound.  Happy birthday, little one.

dinah's 2


Happy 26th Birthday, Rachael!

Dear Rachael,

Tomorrow’s your birthday and since you’ll be traveling all day from Miami, I want to take the chance now to wish you the very best birthday ever.  Here are a few things (in no particular order) that I’ve enjoyed about you over this past quarter of a century together:

  1. Your excellent sense of humor
  2. Your kindness
  3. Your sharp wit
  4. Your clarity about what you like/dislike
  5. Your comfort level with telling me what you really think
  6. Your sensitivity with all people
  7. Your excellent work ethic
  8. Your love of literature
  9. Your love of music
  10. Your ability to listen
  11. Your sense of style
  12. Your good health habits
  13. Your sense of adventure
  14. Your willingness to follow your heart
  15. Your willingness to take chances
  16. Your ability to love with your whole heart
  17. Your love of kids
  18. Your love of dogs
  19. Your willingness to push yourself out of your comfort zone
  20. Your strong problem-solving skills

Thank you for being a wonderful daughter and a lovely all-around person.  I would love you even if you weren’t my daughter!

Happy travels and see you soon, honey.

Love, Mom

One of My Favorites Photos of Rachael and Frankie


Flash Fiction, Memoir and Essay

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