Category Archives: Home

Family Visiting and Flea Sunday at Church

It is 10:30 at night and Sarah, Luna and Nico are asleep in our guest bedroom while Ray, Cordelia and Frankie are asleep in our room. I will soon follow. We have had the treat of a two night visit with Sarah and the kids while Gregorio is off on a business trip. Tomorrow the kids and Sarah will join us at St. Thomas the Apostle, Hollywood for the blessing of the animals. Cordie and Frankie will be among many from the canine family trotting up to the altar rail for a blessing.

I am Master of Ceremonies tomorrow, which means I have to go early and make sure everybody is doing what they are supposed to be doing and are in their proper places. Luckily, I am still in training so I won’t have to take on “Flea Sunday” without help at my side. Otherwise, it might prove too much at this juncture.

Off to bed to rest up for what will no doubt be an eventful morning tomorrow.

Hope you all sleep well, my friends. I’ll be checking back in tomorrow.

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Back in LA After a Stop in Sierra Madre

We are back in LA tonight. The house is warm, but now the windows are all open and the fans on. Plus, we have turned on the air conditioner in the bedroom. Already the night air is cooling down the house, which has been closed up for the past 15 days.

I drove both days of the trip, which is our usual arrangement. I like driving and Ray likes handling the music, the podcasts and the snacks. We actually had an easy trip, leaving at 12:30 pm yesterday, stopping in Grants, NM last night at 10:30 pm, leaving again this morning around 7:30 and arriving in Sierra Madre to see Gregorio and the grandkids around 6 pm. (Sarah was still at work until 9 pm.) We visited for an hour or so then arrived here around 8:30 pm. We had the advantage of gaining 2 hours along the way so that made it seem shorter. Plus we listened for hours last night to the Democratic convention and then news commentary all day today about the convention, Trump’s response, etc. That is the kind of radio that is good for keeping me awake.

The other motivation for my driving at a fast clip on that open road was the chance to see my two little grandkids (and their daddy, of course). I was right at the end of my tolerance level of being away from those two little sweetie pies. I was surprise how they both seemed to have grown just in those two weeks. Getting hugs and snuggles from them definitely made that long trip feel worth it.

I am now sitting in my den with my feet up. I am grateful to have made it safely back from another cross-country road trip. Tomorrow I will see Liz, Ron, Rachael and Ron’s friend, Kevin. We are going to Irvine Meadows in the evening to see Duran-Duran and Chic. This is Ray’s belated birthday present and the real draw for him is Chic. It will be fun to be with the kids and  to go to the concert. I’m just sorry that Ariel, Sarah, Gregorio and the grandkids won’t be there. Alas, it’s tough to coordinate that many schedules!

Here are pictures of my beautiful grandkids taken this afternoon. You will see that Grandma is happy to be back with this two little tykes.

I hope you’re having a pleasant Friday evening.

I’ll be checking back in tomorrow.

Luna and a Road-Weary Grandma

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Nico

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Nico and Toy

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My honey-bunch and me

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A Few Thoughts and A Tentative HBO Recommendation

I am here in Texas, sitting in the room we call “the green room” because it has green floral wallpaper and a deep green ceiling, and I am struck with how odd “time” can be. Once I get here to this house, whether it is 6 weeks or 6 months, after only a few hours, I feel as if I’ve always been here. Very strange. It is as if my California life recedes into a pocket in my brain and I am fully immersed in my Texas existence, which includes life in a big Victorian, buying and selling antiques, organizing our rather large collection of odds and ends as well as dealing with renters either here or Fort Worth. I have a full set of friends and neighbors here just as I do in CA and we have many similar discussions about art, design, music, writing and concerns about the events in our country and around the world.

When I am in CA, I have a similar experience: Texas fades away and I am fully there with a life that looks a little different because of my teaching, the presence of our kids and grandkids and the orange grove, but very much the same in many other ways.

I suppose our brains have the capacity for serious compartmentalization.

I am hurrying tonight to finish this post because Ray is waiting on me to watch the next episode of the new HBO series, “The Night Of.” We saw the first episode last week and I can highly recommend what I have seen so far. A complicated story with lots of twists and turns. I will write more when I know more.

On that note, I’ll say good night. I hope your Sunday was relaxing and you are gearing up for a good week.

I’ll be checking back in with you tomorrow.

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The Room Where I Write

The room I am sitting in has a red Persian rug, a brown leather couch, a green brocade wing back chair (plus ottoman), a green Morris chair (plus ottoman), a cane back rocking chair, an art deco blondish coffee table and a low oak table upon which rests our television set. The curtains (which are insulated blackout curtains) are peach colored and they match in color, purely by accident, a large photo we have of orangish sand and distant rock formations of somewhere in either Arizona or New Mexico. We also have an orangish antique Carrom board hanging at an angle on one wall, plus a vintage needlepoint on another. The needlepoint reads:

Give Me Time

Time for patience
For understanding too
Time to remember
Thoughtful deeds to do
Time to believe in
all fellow men
Time to perceive
The value of a friend.

The needlepoint has a clock flanked with flowers in the very middle between “…thoughtful deeds” and Time to believe…”, and there are backward and forward S shapes all around the edges. It is beautifully framed and is one of my favorite possessions.

There is another needlepoint on the far wall, plus a clock in an oak case, two pictures and a painting. There are also a couple of small tables, two lamps, a Mission Oak drop front desk plus oak desk chair, and an old round oak stool. It sounds like a lot of furniture for a relatively small room, but it all fits together nicely and gives the room a lived-in feeling. All the colors and textures work nicely together to convey warmth.

This room is right next to the kitchen and was the official diningroom before we arrived. We wanted our living room to be a television-free zone so we need a den, and this has been our den/tv room for the 21 years we’ve lived in this house. We have a big table in the living room that serves as a dining table for major events. We would need to be in there anyway since this room – our den – is on the smallish side.

When people come into this room, they often say, “Ah, it’s so cozy in here.” I agree. It’s a comfortable space in which to relax. It is also in close proximity to the kitchen, which is handy for a quick snack. There is a ceiling fan that keeps everything cool, plus a big bay window and two side windows that make it nice and light. We have a rectangular stained glass window that hangs in the bay window.

When my kids were at home, I used to see all my students in the living room. The den was part of our family space and was their domain for relaxing after school with a snack and a little tv time. But now I typically see my students in here because it’s pleasant and Ray will go upstairs if he needs family space. We have a door that can close if he is in the kitchen when I have a student. That way he gets the privacy he needs and we get the quiet we need for writing.

Because Ray and I have been antique dealers for a very long time, our home has an eclectic assortment of antique or collectible furniture and decor, all of which means something special to us. This room is no exception. I can look at every piece of furniture or needlepoint or lamp, table or picture and tell you where it came from and what the story is that goes with it. And if I can’t recall the story, then Ray can. That is just part of the deal when you buy and sell antiques. The story is almost as important as the function of the piece. In some cases, even more important.

I am happy to have such a nice space in which to write and work. I am surrounded with old and treasured possessions that help create an atmosphere that I find soothing. Plus, I have my beloved needlepoint with its reflection on time. I think this environment nurtures those who enter. I certainly hope it does since that has been my intention. It definitely nurtures me.

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Coping with Troubles

The past few days have been filled with an unexpected batch of complications in several areas of my life, ranging from severe health problems for a couple of friends to very bad news about a couple of friends to very bad relations between a couple of friends. Also, there are stressors occurring in two unexpected spots that create challenges I had not foreseen. Again, none of these occurrences are happening directly to me, but rather around me. It is as though there is friction in the air and it is hovering somewhere just to the right of my left shoulder. That’s not to even mention the impact of daily bad news from the national and international front, which I believe we can all agree is tough to take even from a distance.

This all begs the question: How to deal with this?

I decided this morning that I need to listen to more music. Researchers have shown that listening to certain types of music calms the mind and creates a more positive mood.

Also, I thought, “You need to tidy up loose ends.” I have a few of those dangling about and I think some focused tidying would bring some definite peace of mind.

In addition, I resolved to spend time each day offering up prayers for those who are suffering, not just for those who are close, but also for those whom I’ve heard about on the news. This can’t hurt the people who are in pain and it will give purpose and perspective for me.

Finally, I resolved to stop putting off items on my bucket list until some distant “never-never,” but rather to make small inroads to ensure some come to fruition in the not-too-distant future.

I think all of this discord near me has helped me to recognize that beauty, simplicity, empathy and adventure can bring some real quality to life. I already feel better focusing on what is positive and not feeling mired in the negative.

I hope your life has been moving along without any unexpected complications. If troubles arise for you or around you, I recommend a good listen to one of your favorite musicians. It won’t fix anything out in the world, but it will definitely shift your mind and mood to a happier place.

On that note, I’ll say good night.

As usual, I’ll be checking back in with you tomorrow.

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My Need for a Little Daily Solitude

I have always liked small dark places where I could hide: closets mainly, but when I was little I didn’t mind under the bed or in a cardboard box with the lid slightly shut. I even had a secret hiding place behind a long drawer in my bathroom when I was nine or ten where I would take a flashlight and sit to get away from all the ruckus of growing up in a family with six kids, four of whom were pesky brothers. I also had a penchant for playing far back in the bushes all by myself. Right back by the fence so I could lean against it while I sat and played with doodle bugs. You might say all of my life I have had a need to spend some part of every day completely alone.

I didn’t actually recognize that need of mine when I married a man who preferred having people around all day and night long. Someone who loved to laugh and talk louder and louder as he got excited and who enjoyed nothing better than a roomful of people who were doing the same. No wonder we had so many arguments. Add three kids to the mix and I don’t think I had one moment of solitude for about fifteen years. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy many of the people who were our friends, or many of the non-stop activities that my energetic and extroverted husband thought we needed to engage in, it was just there was no down-time, no silence, no time to think.

After chasing the poor man around the yard one day with a crowbar with the intent to scare him to death – which I did – I started getting to live life a bit more in a way that suited me. Which only meant that I realized and asked for time to go into a room and write for a while everyday. My husband, who recognized that he was living with a woman on the brink, helped me set up a guest bedroom so that I had a desk and chair and a door that closed. Our marriage tension began to ease after that, and over the years has gotten less and less since I have remembered my need for a little space apart every day.

What did I do when I was alone as a kid? I daydreamed. I made up characters with names (I had a Dictionary of Proper Names to help) and I constructed elaborate stories in my mind of these people and their situations. Alas, I now know that I was simply doing what all fiction writers do – creating imaginary worlds. In addition, I made up plans for our house. We could make our big 2-story house into a camp where kids could come for fun. Three or four triple bunks in every bedroom would ensure a proper number of campers and we could do arts and crafts downstairs in the big family room, eat in the dining room, have singalongs in front of the fireplace in the living room and have races and playtime out under our big oak tree in the back yard. I even drew up a floor plan and showed my mother, who, bless her soul, was quite enthusiastic about how it would all work.

I am an odd duck in some ways; perfectly normal in many others. But when it comes to solitude, I am clear. I function best if I have time every day to sit and be quiet so that I can think or write. Not to read, however, though, I would love more time for that. But I don’t consider reading “alone time” since reading involves at least one other person – the author – and probably many more – the characters – and that starts feeling crowded.

A friend told me last night about a new finding related to introverts and extroverts. Apparently, there is a chemical that is generated in the brain when extroverts are around other people; that same chemical is depleted when introverts are around people. Now, the truth is that I love people – I have a genuine interest in hearing their stories – and most people who know me would automatically categorize me as an extrovert. But there is a moment when all that talking and laughing shifts and I feel as if someone has pulled the plug to my energy source. That’s when I need to excuse myself, and head upstairs to be alone.

My husband and I, over these thirty plus years together, have moved from our personal extremes to a life closer to the center, and the amount of time we spend with other people is reflected in that shift. Now we both agree that while company is great, alone time can be equally as pleasant. I still don’t get quite as much solitude as I would like, but enough so the crow bar hasn’t re-emerged.

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Our “Mini” Father’s Day Amid the Heat

Liz and Ron, Rachael and Ariel came over this morning to celebrate a mini-Father’s Day with Ray. The “mini” is because we are going to officially have this celebration next weekend when Sarah is not working nights at the hospital. (A resident’s life is hardly worth living, I’ve noted.) Ron and Liz arrived with food. Ron made waffles for everyone, Rachael and Ariel made a fruit salad, I scrambled eggs. Liz and Ray chatted in the room next to the kitchen with Liz occasionally coming in to see how the meal was progressing. When the food was ready, she headed off to set the table.

This was a relaxed event with not much fanfare. Just six of us sitting down to enjoy a meal and chat for a while. Rachael had to leave to go babysit at noon and Ariel left to go join his family. Ron and Liz stayed until 4 when she had to head off to volunteer for a couple of hours at the yoga studio where she takes classes. She was then going to Ron’s family’s house for their Father’s Day event. (She dropped Ron off there on her way back to Glendale.) After our meal, Liz, Ron, Ray and I sat in the den and watched a recorded CBS Sunday Morning and talked about the primary topic on everyone’s mind in LA right now: the heat wave.

Liz texted on her way to Glendale that her car thermometer was reading 109. At our house it was in the high 90’s. Tomorrow will be just as hot or maybe a little hotter. We Southern Californians are not equipped for this. Many of us don’t have air conditioners at all or only in our bedrooms. (Our case). We had to move from the living room to the den in mid – afternoon because the sun was pouring in from the west and we were too hot.

Ray is now upstairs in our air-conditioned bedroom. I am downstairs sitting in a room with all the windows and back door open with a fan pointed on me that is on high. It is 9 pm and the temperature is not cooling off very fast. Our house is stucco so it’s slow to heat up and slow to cool down. Particularly when tomorrow is due to be so hot again.

My Texas friends are no doubt rolling their eyes now. “You want to see heat,” they’re saying, “then come on over here. We’ll show you real heat.” However, I would contend that in Texas nobody is surprised by hot weather and is geared up for it. Most people have air conditioning in their whole house. Here, we all start melting when we even hear the words, “Heat wave,” and many are not properly prepared. Plus, here there are miles and miles of concrete that start absorbing the heat, which makes everything even more miserable.

But it is not attractive to whine… (That is a message straight from my mother).

Despite the heat, I believe Ray had a very good mini-Father’s Day. I assume that Gregorio did too though I suspect it was filled with baby and toddler needs. That’s okay. He’s a good sport about his babies. I look forward to next Sunday when we will see the Pacheco Beaty side of the family (along with Liz, Ron, Rachael and Ariel) and have our real wing-ding.

Until then, I may have to go buy some frozen peas to put on my neck to keep me cool.

Okay, okay. No more whining.

I hope you had a great day, regardless of the weather and/or your father status. These “parent” days are not happy ones for everyone. If you are among that group, then I hope you diverted your attention to something that brings you some happiness.

On that note, I’ll say good-night.

I’ll be talking to you again tomorrow.

Ray’s Mini-Father’s Day Breakfast

Ray's Mini Breakfast