Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Under Ten and Over Fifty Adventure Club

It is hot, hot, hot and we all needed a little somethin' somethin' to do. Phyllie, the poods, B, Rach and I formed our official summer hiking club. Destination? Galena Creek trail. Not more than five or six miles from our house, just off the Mt. Rose highway.

Of course there were preliminary preparations to attend to first. B and Rach wanted to bring a snack. Out came the lunch boxes. Pop Tarts, of course, the kids choice. Next, each  filled up their own canteens. Preliminary preparations complete.

The poodles can smell a hike in the making every time. They immediately began romping around, all smiles. I could hear their little doggie brains, "Woo Hoo, out come the hiking shoes. Let's get goin!!!"

Phyllie is somewhat like the poodles.

"Okay every body, lets get in the car." They were out of the house in seconds flat.

I tried to get ready as quickly as they all did, but .....

I had to go back to get my sunglasses, while in the house the phone rang. Of course I had to answer it. Then I realized I forgot to pee. While coming out of the potty, I saw that the yorkie (who obviously was stressed about being left home) had laid down a little tootsie roll on the carpet in her pen. I had to clean that up. Then I realized I forgot my long sleeved white shirt to guard me from the intense sun. Back in the closet to retrieve it.

I heard the horn honking.

Okay, Okay. I was afraid to see the look on Phyl's face. I knew they weren't dying of the heat in the SUV because she had wisely taken the keys with her. Air conditioning is her friend.

When I finally got out of the house, I could see Phyl with her shoulders scrunched up to her ears, palms up with a huge question mark on her face. "What the f*? Let's get goin'. What are ya doin' in there? Get a move on." Her voice sounds incredulous. Her face is all screwed up with her eyebrows knitted together, looking for all the world like the silhouette of Mt. Rose itself.

The sight of her going on, Lula Mae peering out the windshield from underneath the rear view mirror, and the kids in their car seats made me giggle and shake my head.

"Hold on. I'm coming. Keep your nickers on."

Phyl is the hare, and I am the tortoise. It has always been that way with us, and it will always be that way with us. One thing though, that hare runs out of energy much quicker than this tortoise. I will still be moving when she is sacked out on the couch.

I finally get behind the wheel just in time to receive a great big slurp from Lula Mae.

Rachel starts complaining because Lula Mae is sitting on her, and Tito is licking her head. Tito loves Rachel, but Rachel is sick of being slathered in kisses by him. Tito is eye level with Rach and he believes she is the cutest little girl on the planet, totally deserving of his sweet smooches.

"Does everyone have their seat belts on?" I chirp.

"Yes, we all have everything, and are belted in, now let's get this show on the road. I'm sick of sitting here waiting," Phyl is insistent.

Contact. It is difficult to back out of the driveway because the poodles are HUGE and they block my view out every window. After craning my neck until I think I will need to visit the chiropractor when I get back, we finally get headed down the street.

Woo Hoo. The adventure club has its first meeting.

"There is a short hike and we will enjoy playing in the creek," I say with great anticipation. The water is very cold, and is just what we need for a 90 plus degree day.

"I'm NOT getting into the water, Grandma. I am NOT!!!" Rachel is almost in a panic. A few days earlier there was an unfortunate mishap on the Truckee River. Rachel is scarred, and she is absolutely determined to NEVER get in running water again. EVER.

B is a bit more contemplative. He calmly says, "Grandma, our boat tipped over and we went under the water. It was scary."

"I know B, but we will not be rafting. We are just going to play in the water," I try to be reassuring. "It is a shallow creek, no swimming, just playing."


I look into the rear view mirror. Rach is staring blankly out the window, and B has his right forefinger in his mouth. Sure signs of I wonder what Crazy Grandma is getting us into now thinking.

After about ten minutes of driving, we arrive at the park.

On comes the sunscreen, out comes the poodles, and off we go to the trail.

"I hear the water, Grandma." Rachel sounds concerned.

I took her over to see the creek, then we kept walking up the well traveled path. Each child carries their own snacks in their cartoon character metal lunch boxes. Rach, of course, has Tinker Bell, B Spiderman. In their other hand they carry their water bottles. Every now and then they stop to pop the top on their jugs, only to take a short sip. One would think we were in the Sahara.

The poods are no dummies. They head to the shade every chance they get. Their tongues get longer, and longer the further we go. We ambled over two bridges, and walked through a great tunnel of "bamboo, Grandma."

We imagine we are on a huge trek. For the grandchildren it probably feels like a long way. We have gone maybe a mile and Rach has repeatedly asked me to pick her up and carry her. No siree bobby.

"You chose to wear those flip flops, you can walk. Let's get movin' Sister." I can be such a drill sergeant.

Rach, being four years old now, is prone to pouting when she doesn't get her way. I used to try to please her, thinking I will not be in a position to be able to afford to pay her psychiactric bills in another ten years or so due to my influence in her upbringing. It was a nice thought, but totally impractical. Nope, we keep on moving. Natural and logical consequences are important life lessons for any child to learn, even at four years old.

We made a special trip to their home just to get their water shoes so they could also be used as hiking shoes. Both children have refused to use them. Oh well. It's not like we are rock climbing or anything like that. The path is sandy and even. Apparently the flip flops are doing Rach just fine.

Rach comes from a long line of Sallys.

What Rachel really wants is to be carried. She loves to be carried. I believe she was a princess in her former life, or perhaps even the Queen of the Nile. When Rach makes her "carry me" requests I can see her in my minds eye laying prone on a long, pillow covered bed being toted by slaves fanning her as they carry her to her destination.

"Sorry, Charlina you chose those shoes, now you have to walk in them. It is only a little further down this path." Grandma seems heartless.

Rach's bottom lip protrudes further and further like the under jaw of a proverbial croaking frog.

Finally, we come upon the underside of a bridge. It is perfect. Perfect shade, and the perfect point in the creek to play. In go the poods and Phyllie, shoes and all. B, Rach and I take a bit more time to get used to the idea of playing in the creek at this spot. The water is rushing pretty quickly, but at its deepest it is no more than 18 inches.

When I tell Rachel she can throw rocks into the creek, she looses the pout, loosens herself from my leg, and scrambles to the water's edge. After shucking her flip flops, she is barefooted in an inch of the crispy cool water. She immediately sits down and starts chucking rocks into the creek rapids. With each splash she causes, her grin grows wider.

B, meanwhile, starts throwing rocks too, but from a little deeper water in the creek. He tires of rock throwing more quickly than Rach. There are lots of small boulders scattered around the shoreline just begging to be climbed upon. B shucks his shoes too, and begins climbing rocks barefooted. I imagine him as Huckelberry Finn out on one of his adventures except B has been burdened with the eagle eyed Crazy Grandma.

"Be careful not to hit your brother with that rock," I look up just in time to see the hurtling projectile just miss B's head by inches. Blood in the water is the first thing on my mind at that moment. Where's the nearest emergency room? Did I bring the consent for treatment card? Oh Lord, their mother is going to kill me.

This is why B has named me Crazy Grandma. We are always getting into some kind of trouble together. Thankfully, today, we escape with only cold prune like toes and muddy clothes.

The poodles wade in and out of the water, shaking and licking our faces. They are hot in their furry coats.

Phyllie has found a rock in the sun to sit on as her perch, a safe distance from Rachel's throwing arm. She doesn't remain there for long though because when Rachel spotted her empty lap, she scrambled to sit on it like a heat seeking missile. Phyllie has been named by Rachel as her new Shero. After the unfortunate accident on the river a mere two days before, Rachel continued her trek on the river by clinging to Phyllie's neck for dear life swearing, "I will never go in the water again."

But she has, and today is a glorious day to be in the creek, throwing rocks, and sitting on the lap of a non-crazy grandma. Phyllie had a wide smile on her face rivaling the poodles. No tongue sticking out though, just smile. B decides to get in on the action too. Pretty soon there is a wriggling mass of humanity all perched precariously on one small river boulder. The poodles want in on the melee too, so they start prancing around all three of them.

Grandma contents herself in taking pictures of the scene.

When everyone has had their fill of throwing, climbing, and generally splashing about in the icy cold stream, we pack up and head the party home.

Rachel, of course, is the dirtiest of all. Mz. Brownbottom is what I called her. B, characteristically, looked like he just stepped out of the pages of an advertisement for cool kids hiking wear. Not a smudge of mud on him, anywhere.

How does he do it?

It's a mystery to me. Even when he was a baby learning to feed himself, he was tidy. I used to watch him, with considerable concentration on his face, scoop out a portion of food from his plate with an enormous spoon (no baby spoons for me, thank you very much) and with great precision place the food in his mouth. He never missed. The first couple of times I thought it was a fluke, but I can tell you now, that is just how he is. Calculated in every movement he makes. Today, he hardly got his clothing wet, let alone sit on something muddy.

I, on the other hand, look like I have been "drug through a knothole backwards" as my mother would say. Hair disheveled, shirt askew, and, like Rach, a nice brown bottom.

Oh, and did I tell you, I was wearing MY flip flops too?????

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Last night, when I was in the shower washing my dirty feet, I could not help but reflect on how the dirt, or other foreign matter, got there in the first place. I love to get out the soap, lather up my brush, and with joyous zeal, scrub the heck out of those red enameled toe nails of mine. The best part of this ritual is when I put my weathered feet under the running shower. I can tell how good my day was by the color of the water as it washes the debris away.

It's always the same story in the summertime.

Give me two and one half seconds, and my shoes come flying off. It doesn't matter they are sandals, flip flops mostly, I fling them off with reckless abandon. I want to feel the earth beneath my feet. Or the cement. Or the carpet. Or the cool tile floor. That's the point. I want to FEEL my connection to the planet. Shoes, who needs them?

For sure I do, but only in the snowy wintertime. I revel in wiggling my always manicured toes as they come out of my snug boots. My toes need to breathe. I sometimes have imaginary conversations with them. They thank me, I say, "You're welcome." I think I can breathe better too, without enclosed toe shoes. I feel carefree.

Sometimes, my summertime proclivity for running about barefooted can cause me a bit of embarrassment. Like yesterday.

I had a headache, and needed desperately to get my neck screwed on straight again, so off to the chiropractor I went. No call, no appointment, just "Here I am."

Good thing my guy keeps to his office hours. Me dropping by with no notice is nothing new.

"Sorry I didn't make an appointment," I say as I breeze in.

"Why should you? No one else does. Come on back."

I love Eric.

Once, years ago, I even asked him if he would marry me. His reply?

"Why would you want to marry me when you can rent me?"

Point taken.

I get escorted back to an adjustment table. He puts on the electric stem, covers me with a heating pad, and I start to drift off to my happy place.

After 10 minutes or so, he comes in to check on me. Fine. The adjustment goes very well. I'm starting to feel the blood rush back into my head. Thank you, Eric.

I get a sweet lick from his black, poo-something doggy office mascot, Lucy.

"Thanks Lucy, I needed that," I coo.

That's when I notice the filthy soles of my feet.

Of course, Eric got to see them first. Poor guy. I wonder if he thinks I am the worst slob on the face of the earth? Generally, if there is something on his mind, it comes out of his mouth. We have that kind of patient/doc relationship. Eric has been my chiro for many, many years now. He was mercifully silent today about my nasty dirty feet.

The last time I was in, I had been spray painting for hours, in flip flops of course, and the soles of my feet looked like a smashed Jackson Pollock. At least I could claim it was art related.

This time, my only excuse was, "I went to the park with the kids. Parks are dirty business."

Yeah, sure. I imagined Eric to say.

Then he blurted out, "I am the original tenderfoot. If I took off these shoes, I would be Ouch, Ouch, Ouch with every step."

I felt sorry for him. How can you know it is summer if your feet can't breathe?

Then I am reminded Eric celebrates summer in other ways. I asked him about the burnt cardboard box in the back of his pickup truck.

"You can't go down the highway with a box that advertises dynamite, or fireworks," he explains in a very matter of fact way.

Hmmm.....then it clicks. It has been only days since the 4th, and I remember him telling me he was going to the lake with some big boomers.

That explains it.

He tells me about his weekend with the boys, making all sorts of racket blowing those things up. He is positively gleeful. I am happy for him.

I muse, I only have dirty feet to show for my day.

I love watching the color of the rinse water becoming darker, and darker as it whisks away the remains of my day. I know it was a good one.

I love watching my grandchildren. After each day together, I say a tiny prayer of gratitude because I have gotten to see the world anew through their eyes. Sometimes the memories we are building together override my childhood experiences. Sometimes they run parallel. Sometimes they build totally new experiences because today's world is extremely different than the world I grew up in.

While I watched the muddy water swirl down the drain, I reflected on the many times I had observed suds mixed with mud, grass, and other debris wash away in a similar manner.

When I was a little girl growing up in Bakersfield, California I thought barefoot was normal. It WAS for me.

I remember my mother physically wringing her hands as she tried to get me to wear shoes. I steadfastly refused. I ran out of the house with them in my hand, then promptly threw them on our grassy front yard. I'd hop on my bike, and off I would go.

Nothing could make me put shoes on. Not the pebbly dirt I ran on to my friend's house, not the patches of sticker burrs that made me yell OUCH while playing on the grass, not even the boiling hot tarmac. My feet grew tougher during the summer months, necessarily so. By the end of summer, I could have taken a pilgrimage to Mecca barefoot.

Many, many nights my mother would bring out a washcloth to clean our feet before going to bed, especially if I had already had a bath, but snuck out of the house to play a bit before the obligatory bedtime.

Mother would cluck her tongue chiding me about having, "Such dirty feet for such a little girl."

I would try to wiggle away from her because, oddly enough, her washing my feet with the knobby washcloth would tickle me so much I could hardly stand it.

"You're such a Barefoot Sally," mother would giggle as she vigorously scrubbed the grass stains. "You cannot go to bed with dirty feet."

I have often heard my mother's words come out of my mouth as I ritualistically wash the feet of my grandchildren before nap time. Miss Rachel is a Sally too. I work mightily to distinguish just when and where it is appropriate to let her run barefoot. My mind calculates the risks she would face should she be allowed to run barefoot on my watch. Sadly, in the end, my own yard is the only safe place for her to feel the earth beneath her feet. Not the park where we play, not the sand in the volleyball court where she takes swim lessons, not the sidewalk path we take on our way to the park. I can't take the chance some idiot has thrown a broken bottle, or a junkie has lain on the soft sand leaving behind the needle for his stairway to heaven, or an infected someone has spit nastiness onto our path.

These thoughts swirl through my mind, and head down the drain along with the pieces of dirt picked up along my journey today.

It's bedtime. I have clean feet.

I love summer.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hey Grandma, Blog this!!!




Yesterday, the children and I had a blast. We were goin' from the minute they got here until they left. Here's the itinerary:

1. Grannie gets a Starbucks
2. B and I got the Hyundai washed, and vacuumed out.
3. got gas
4. delivered hedge trimmers to Christian
5. B and grannie go for a 1 1/2 mile bike ride. B does well. Grannie, well let's just say it was the inagural run.
6. B and grandma buy groceries.
7. B gets a summertime haircut. "I want a faux-hawk, grandma." Check.
8. B paints Rachel's fingernails.
9. Rach and grandma clean up poodle pootie (Rachel's favorite activity, yuck!!!)
10. Rach and grannie water flowers.
11. Rach and grannie make a marinade for a tri-tip lunch.
12. Phyl comes home for lunch. Tri-tip gets BBQed. Phyl stakes out a corner of the kitchen table for her eats.
12. B and Rach get out their craft boxes. Pandemonium strikes.
13. Grandma decides we need another leaf put into the table. Phyl complains "I just want to eat lunch."
14. Leaf gets put into kitchen table. Now there is room for eating and art projects.
15. Rachel becomes enamored with cutting things with her scissors. Reminds herself as she is cutting string "I can't cut my hair anymore." Grandma gets more string out for her to cut. Lula supervises.
16. Children and grandma head to McDonalds for lunch and play in the play structure. Grandma knows there will be other children for B and Rach to play with.
17. Two hour lunch and play at McD's.
18. Back home for 'quiet hour'
19. B watches Goosebumps, Grannie and Rach head to the spare room to watch Alvin and the Chipmunks, a Squeakquil.
20. Quiet time is over. B gets out his oversized coloring book, Cars of course, and Rach plays with magnetic letters.
21. B and Rach begin the sibling squabble.

"You don't know how to spell, Rachel."

"I do too!!! LOOK"
R's are upside down, L's are backward.

B takes control of the cookie sheet.

"Here, Rachel let me show you."

"NO!!! I can do it myself!"

"I am smarter than you, Rachel."

"You are NOT. Besides, I can arrest you!!!"

"I am older than you Rachel. I will always be older than you."

"Yes, and you will come to regret that someday," Grandma lobs in.

22. Mom arrives.

Grandma finally gets to go to the bathroom.
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Monday, July 5, 2010

Even in the Midst


You cannot harm me,
Even in the heart,

Especially in the heart.

I am calm.

I smile,
You rage,

I wave you on.
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A Gale on the Rise


It begins with a breath,
and I grow,
and I grow.

I am the wind.
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I love to hang
My rope among the stars,
While I dance my dance of
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Frolicking with Clematis


I hear of your need to dance.
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After the paving fiasco

I, Tito, promise to abide by the rules of romp established July 4th, 2010:

1. No knocking over planters
2. No eating plants
3. Stay on the pavers
4. No tracking sand in the house
5. No tracking sand
6. In the house
7. No
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Friday, July 2, 2010


It was in the month before the plump, ripening moon of harvest that I met HER.

The evening was well on its way to revealing the wonders of the universe, pinpoints of light pierced the darkness as I gazed out my loft window. Both Yorkies at my feet, and they would steadfastly remain there until I ordered them to do otherwise.

The faint glow from the monitor reflected hope as I studied the pictures presented, and almost without thought, I pressed the wink button. HER semblance was not what I found interesting. It was something in HER smile that intrigued me.

I continued perusing the other profiles of an online dating company that was presented to me as possible matches. This was not a new endeavor. I had been corresponding, on-line dating, since school let out in June. I had become very cavalier, even jaded, and had lost hope of ever finding anyone. The two dimensional reality seemed doomed to remain just that.

Yes, it was initially titillating, using a computer service to connect me to other women, 'out there'. The possibilities seemed endless. Every discussion seemed to highlight another part of me revealing something about how I participated in relationships.

Several aspects of myself came to the forefront as I experimented with different profiles. I tried on different personas like a young girl would try on new outfits. First, I dallied on a single dating service, next on multiple others as my attention began to wane.

Slowly, I became my own sociological experiment.

Sassy Sandals looking for a Good Pair of Boots was my first on-line persona. By this time in my coming out process, I had determined I was an old fashioned Femme girl, and I wanted an old fashioned Butch. It was become politically incorrect to assign those 'labels' to lesbians by this time. I decided to hell with them all. Butch women made the hairs on my arms stand at attention. Each hair saluting. Finally allowing myself to be in a relationship with a butch woman was the best thing I could imagine, and the most frightening, all at the same time.

It took enormous courage for me, but I chose tall, dark and dangerous.

SHE turned out to be none of the above.

SHE was more.

It was hell living a lie. I did so for 42 years of my life. Finally, I had reached a point where my children could not be taken away from me, and I was free to be ME.

I longed to soar.

My daughter was the inspiration for me to begin dating on-line. She insisted I get a computer and "Get out there Mom. That is how dating is done these days." I raised a good one there.

She was sick of seeing me mope.

I was sick of moping.

Sassy Sandals was my first moniker. That particular profile brought in some lively prospects. I chatted endlessly with numerous women all over this country, even a few in Europe. It didn't take me long to figure out dating long distance was a bust for me. I longed for physical connection. Words are wonderful, necessary, but they were no substitution for a warm body with arms to wrap around me.

By the time summer was coming to an end, I had three on-line personas. I had begun to realize how I chose to present myself, especially my "title" would attract certain types of women to respond to my ads.

SHE did not respond to Sassy Sandals.

Later, at our first meeting, we discussed my experiment. I viewed my activities of the summer as an interesting adventure. I still do. I am glad I took my daughter's advice.

I matured into my lesbianism that summer, on-line.

I can't actually remember which persona I was using when I winked at HER, but within a half hour SHE winked back. Our online conversation was very brief. It didn't seem natural to me to be chatting with her online when I could actually talk to HER. I was beyond excited. I was thrilled. She lived in the same city as me. A miracle in and of itself. I longed to hear a real woman's voice. We made a 'date' for me to call HER in ten minutes.

I called HER in five.

"I thought you were calling in ten minutes." SHE sounded very sassy.

"I can hang up, and call back if you would like," was my equally sassy reply.

"No, no, that is fine. Let's chat." SHE was laughing with an easy chuckle.

I liked it.

We continued having a very witty conversation for at least an hour before SHE asked if I wanted to meet for coffee the next day.

"Sounds good to me."

We met at a local Starbucks. I arrived first. I was in a short summer dress with heels.

She showed up wrinkled and wet. No boots. Tennis shoes.

I didn't have a stellar first impression. It wasn't the shoes. I just couldn't get passed the wrinkled and wet.

We both got a coffee, and sat down to chat, face to face.

I noticed SHE was more than a bit guarded as we started to get to know one another.

I came clean about my various persona's including Sassy Sandals.

"I saw that posting. What the hell did that mean?" SHE asked with HER arms tightly crossed over her breasts, and her eyes narrowing. It was as if SHE was an entire fortress all onto herself, and I was not granted entry.

I explained I loved sandals, and as a matter of fact, wearing sandals was how I identified summer was actually here. Being a California girl, I longed for the feeling of freedom sandals gave me. Sandals meant summer, but an even better feeling is no shoes at all.

That is total freedom I explained.

And, being as I also associate my high heel sandals with being a Femme girl, I likewise associate a pair of boots with being Butch.

There. I said it ALOUD. There was that word, hanging in the air. BUTCH.

A word that had been used for generations as a weapon, "trying to be a BOY," "wanting to be a BOY," but NEVER "good enough to be a BOY." All of which are horridly WRONG. At least in my opinion. Butch women are Butch women, and decidedly NOT men, nor boy wannabes.

I knew my soul-mate would be a Butch woman.

What I wanted to do was to take the weapon-words back. Make them MY words. Words of love and longing, NOT words to be used to batter and bruise.

I am sick of being told what I am. What I am not.

Who I can love, and who I cannot.

I am taking my life back for ME.

To be sure, some agree with my viewpoint. Others do not.

SHE was not ready to be identified as BUTCH.

But, BUTCH she was.

She made the hairs on my arm stand at attention. I could not understand why SHE was so guarded, like I was the enemy.

Here I sat. I am your GURL. Even if you cannot SEE me, I am your GURL.

Somehow, we made it through those first few dates. We hiked, we lunched, we talked on the phone, and we slowly came to know one another.

Then one day, SHE saw me. Me. Really SAW me.

It was a moment I will never forget.

HER eyes grew wide. HER nostrils flared. HER lips, pursed. SHE cocked her head slightly to one side. It was as if SHE could not see me head on. SHE needed to gather my likeness a little askew.

That was the moment when WE connected. In a crowded coffee shop restaurant. HER favorite. There was a spark of recognition, and then every noise melted away. All became background. It was only the two of us.

A lazy smile danced across HER lips.

"I was wondering if you would EVER see me."


"Are you ready to go?" she asked.

"Absolutely," I replied breathless.

I don't know how WE made it to her house, but when WE got in the door, SHE wrapped me up tightly in her strong arms, we fit nicely, and SHE kissed me like I had never been kissed before.

The world stood still for just that moment.


WE are coming up on our sixth year anniversary since our first date. WE have lots of anniversaries these days, but somehow the moment when WE recognized each other will be the most important for me because I am reminded that what I think I want, and what is really good for me, are often two different things.

The first six months were rocky as hell. We both have such strong personalities. WE are equals.

But tonight, as WE sat on our patio enjoying the lazy summer evening, I thought about how we met. It brings a smile of contentment to my face, and fills my heart with an abundance of joy.

In another month the anniversary will be official. SHE is the keeper of the dates, I am the keeper of the moments.

I couldn't wait to tell the story to myself again. Here I sit, barefoot, looking into the laughing eyes of the woman I married. I am securely wrapped in joy. I AM a happy girl.