Ojai Evening

Ray and I arrived at the orange grove about thirty minutes ago. He and the dogs are already snuggled up in bed; I am sitting at the table in the kitchen area writing this blog. We are here tonight and part of tomorrow. I just need to return in late afternoon for students. 

It is so wonderful that we can get settled in so fast. The bed is already made and the Airstream becomes very hospitable with the flip of a few switches to turn on gas and electricity. The only other real task is to put the cushions that we store inside back outside on chairs and a chaise lounge. I also took the dogs for a quick walk just so we don’t have any accident from Frankie in the middle of the night. Cordelia is completely trustworthy but Frankie can get a little nervous and wet the bed if we don’t go on that evening walk. A lesson learned the hard way, believe me. 

Now I am sitting in complete silence save for the ticking of a battery operated clock. I am certain that silence is one of the primary reasons  I feel so rested in such a short time once I am here. The constant audio overload of living in the city, plus listening to news on the radio and on the television (which, admittedly, is not on all that much) combine to wearing me right out. I love music and do well when I make a habit of listening to it, but sometimes the silence seems the very best restorative tonic. 

I am heading off to bed now. I hope you are in a relaxed and quiet place this evening, getting your own needed rest. We Americans tend to not sleep enough. I am off to do my part to alter that statistic!

Will check back in tomorrow. 

Getting Back to a Routine…

Happy to say that life is settling down a bit.  I have finished with all my students who had term papers that called for burning the midnight oil, and Ray and I are almost finished with an estate that has required a lot of sorting, assessing, packing and moving. Hooray.  Life might just get back into a nice easy routine. Ah, a relief, to be sure.

I am looking forward to seeing my grandbabies later in the week. I saw them a week ago Saturday, but that’s too long for this grandma.  I need a weekly dose of love from those two little critters or else I start to get this yearning that is hard to dispell.  I am very lucky to live so near all my children.  I get that same yearning for my girls if I go too long without seeing them and now their husbands/boyfriends.  I have many friends who do not have the luxury of such close proximity with their kids and that can be tough. Sarah and Rachael both lived in Texas a few years back (Sarah for 3 years and Rachael for 1) and we figured out how to stay in touch via texts and phone and several trips, but it was not nearly as convenient as an easy car ride across town.  So, I do not take this treat for granted, I promise you.

I have been physically very tired over the past few days.  I don’t bounce back quite as fast these days from a night with only 4 hours of sleep, which is what happened for one of those term papers.  (We worked until 2 am and then resumed at 6 am.)  But today was restful.  I served as subdeacon for the 10:30 mass at St. Thomas the Apostle, Hollywood and then returned later in the afternoon for a viola concert at the church that was lovely. There was a reception afterward that was filled with good food and conversation so now I feel more rested than I did.  The music was very beautiful.  That is always quite restorative.

Okay, off to bed I go. We have an early morning and a full day ahead.  Off to Ojai in the afternoon. I always look forward to that!

Sleep well, my friends.  I’ll check back in tomorrow from Ojai.






Off the Grid Lately, Snowed

Hi folks. Forgive my silence.  I have been snowed with work, both with students and with a recent estate we’re handling.  With one student, I helped work on a paper about T.S. Eliot’s poem, The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock.  Now that is one interesting poem. Also, I am neck-deep with another student on a 25-page paper on Eugenics.  Yikes.  Who knew the United States was a leader in this now discredited belief system back in the early 20th century.  Finally, we are making our way through an estate that has a large amount of Gouda pottery.  Pretty stuff, but lots and lots of it. This requires time and energy as we work in that house.

I will return to life as I know it by week’s end or perhaps next week’s beginning. That is where all deadlines loom and I am happy in these cases for deadlines.  Otherwise, there might never feel like a natural stopping point.  I await “spring” with open arms.

Until then…I hope you’re all well.

Heading to bed so I can tackle those projects afresh tomorrow.


Ray’s Birthday

We have been celebrating Ray’s birthday all day.  Breakfast with Rachael and Ariel at Hugo’s at 11.  A snack and chat with Liz and Ron at their apartment in Glendale. Then the official whole family gathering at Sarah and Gregorio’s house in Pasadena for dinner and presents.  That started around 3:30 and it is now 11:20 pm.

Gregorio grilled chicken and vegetables, Sarah cooked up rice and beans, Liz made a huge salad, Rachael baked a honey-sweetened apple cake and I made a honey-sweetened chocolate bundt cake.  The food was delicious and the company even better.  Luna presented Grandpa with a poster filled with family pictures over the years, Nico toddled around looking cute and two of Sarah and Gregorio’s friends came to help celebrate.

Ray is very happy.

I’m happy too.

A birthday filled with love. Nothing better.



One Major Paper Down!

I have just helped one of my college students finish a 20-page paper on the Aryan Brotherhood.  Feel free to ask me anything; she and I have spent a lot of time researching this prison gang.

We have been working since 1:30 pm today and it is now 9.

I am going to bed now.

The good news is that the paper is finished and it is strong.  It is also neatly footnoted!

Hooray. Life is good.


Repost: To My Brother John on What Would Have Been His 73rd Birthday

I recently came across my mother’s memory book of my brother, John. It contains family photos, several letters from John she received in the months prior to his death, along with condolence cards and letters after he died in 1990. He was 46 at that time. He had been diagnosed with AIDS less than 2 years after going to Parkland Hospital in Dallas with what turned out to be pneumocystis pneumonia. He told us that the doctor said, “We have two medications to fight this disease. If these don’t work, you should know we will not resuscitate.” That was around 1988.

My brother, John, had both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Italian from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and he also spoke French, Spanish and German with an impressive degree of fluency. He lived in Italy for ten years and owned and operated a franchise of The British School, a private school focused on teaching English to Italians. I lived near John in Italy for 1 year right after receiving my Bachelor’s in 1975, and taught English to Italians at his school and then later at The British School in Milan.  We became very close in that year together and I will treasure those memories always. John remains one of the most well-read and well-traveled people I’ve ever met, he played the piano exceptionally well, and had a wicked sense of humor. I loved him very much.

Here are pictures of him over the years.

From Mom’s Memory Book:


John as a baby


John as a Little Boy

john little

Sibling Photo in mid-1960’s

family shot

John in Italy

john beach

John in Italy

john beach1

John, George and Jim with Daddy, 1971

Thanksgiving, 1971

Family Christmas, 1987 or 1988

family christmas

Nephew Jim, Brother Sam, Nephew Hutch, and John

jim, sam, and john

Sister Leslie; Her Friend, Ricki; Ray and John

ray, les, ricki, and john

John and Jim, Brothers and Best Friends

john and JIm

John in 1989

john sick

Looking over these pictures makes me sad; however, I want to share these lovely photos with family and any people who may have known John.  I know a few people will be very pleased to see their dear cousin, brother or friend here on these pages.

Stay warm tonight those of you who are in cold places.  And for those of us here in Southern CA, put on another blanket.  It’s supposed to get down to 57 degrees tonight!

Until tomorrow.

Flash Fiction, Memoir and Essay

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