Friday, April 27, 2012

What We Did Today

We started the day with a delicious buffet breakfast at our hotel, at 8:00a.m., which really felt like 11:00 a.m. -- awesome.

Since this is my first time in San Fran, we decided to take a driving tour of the city.

Here I am at the top of the most crooked street in the U.S. You can see the crookedness much better from the bottom, but we stopped at the top, so that's the photo I have.

Here I am with Grandma -- age 95 and still going strong!

I snapped one of Dad when he wasn't looking.

I took 67 photos today (!) and since we have all seen photos of San Francisco, I'll try to be economical in my sharing.


The Castro

Aunt Gayle, Dad and me and the base of the Golden Gate Bridge

The Palace of Fine Arts, built in the early 1900's for a World's Fair -- This place is seriously gorgeous, and photos don't do it justice. I felt like I was in Italy or Naboo (Queen Amidala's homeland)

Aunt Gayle and me in Naboo

And finally:

San Franciscans LOVE their dogs, as evidenced by this three-part water fountain!

San Francisco!

Last night I arrived in San Francisco, standing in for my Mom for a wonderful reunion that she and my Dad had planned for the USS Triton 201, the submarine upon which my grandfather, Chief Petty Officer Lloyd Charles McKenzie, served in WWII. The Triton went missing 69 years to the day before my Mom passed. It has never been found. My grandfather was only 28 years old, my mother, only 3, and her sister, 2. It's so good to be with my Dad again. My grandma (Mom's 95 year old mother and the widow of Lloyd) and my Aunt Gayle (Mom's sister) are also here. Grandma, Aunt Gayle and Dad all came from Virginia, and I, from Georgia. Many of the other guests at the reunion knew and loved my mother. Mama would be pleased. I can almost feel her presence.

I love my room -- on a corner facing east and north. I can see Alcatraz from the north window.

My Dad created these I.D. badges for all of us attendees to wear, but mine is special. Check out the flip side:

Ha! my Dad's the best! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Junior-Senior Wars, Part Deaux

Here we are again. My son is now a senior, and most of the week passed uneventfully. I wondered if folks were giving us a pass because of the loss of my mother, but then I realized that most of the hoodlums don't even know us anyway, they just target houses from a database. As it turned out, we weren't immune from the adolescent hijinks after all.

At around 11:30 p.m., Friday night after I'd been asleep an hour or so, my husband just so happened to look out the window to see the telltale loops of white dangling from our trees. he grabbed his large flashlight, and quietly walked outside. Amazingly, the punks were still at it. He snuck up close to them, put them in the spotlight, and softly said, "I got ya!" He let them run away, following them with his globe of light all the way down the street.

We scored over 32 wrapped rolls that the punks dropped in their shock of being discovered:

Sweet! From the amount already on the trees, we figured my husband caught them about a third of the way through, compared to last year. In the middle of the night, I went out and helped clean up as much as we could before the dew glued the paper to the trees. It only took about ten minutes, and now there's hardly any sign the mischief-makers were ever there.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Update + Beach Week Recap

We've been home for over a week, and I'm only now feeling settled in. I am working four hours a day now. It's so different, and wonderful, and I'm running scared a bit since, for a while, I am handling tasks for which I'm not yet qualified. I just keep doing my best and then I go back later, in a quieter moment, to have the appointments I made or phone calls I answered checked or critiqued. I just want to make sure I'm doing everything right, and, if not, that I can fix it somehow. For me, a trial by fire seems to be the best way to learn, though, so it's all good. After twenty years of being a stay-at-home mom, I was unsure of what I would be capable, but it seems to be fine, and I've been surprised to find that the atmosphere in the office is actually energizing and helps me to focus. At the end of my shift, I'm never in a hurry to leave, and that's got to be a good thing. Finally, because of the funky timing of my job offer -- in the car driving home from my mother's funeral, and six months after I applied -- I knew I needed to at least walk through the open door to see what the universe had in store for me. At work, though I do think of Mom, I am truly in another emotional box, and am able to completely set my grief aside. This has been an unexpected blessing.

At home, sometimes I feel my Mom around me. It's a feeling that's hard to describe, but it is more than the wishful-thinking jumping at everything in my peripheral vision that I've been doing up 'til now. As I notice the familiarity of her embrace, I begin to cry and then the spell is broken. This has happened a couple of times. It sounds upsetting, but really, it is the beginning of my regaining a faith that's been missing over the last month, so I see it for what it is:  part of the process.

Now: back to the beach!

Longtime AMLV+ readers will recognize our beach from last year. the horseshoe configuration of the chairs and umbrellas is for us -- the five families from our neighborhood who descend upon the shores of Destin year after year. The weather was lovely and the beach was even cleaner than last year. I was astonished at nature's ability to recover after the oil spill a couple of years ago. Regretfully, I didn't catch the local wildlife on film: bottle nose dolphins just offshore every day we were there, sandpipers, gulls, pterodactyls pelicans. But I did get a few pretty shots.

Even rainy days at the beach are great -- so dramatic!

Here I am with wonderful friends, Sandy Kapish and Jackie Leddy, on our way out to celebrate Jackie's birthday. The lovely Lisa Wofford and Gretchen Mitchell had not yet gathered with us in Jackie's condo at this point, but we all went out together, along with our husbands, of course.

My nutritional needs on the beach were simple: a grain, a green and a bean. Here is a spinach salad topped with a brown rice salad with white beans. Wynne loved the rice salad all week too.

More beach-condo fare: amaranth (current fave-crave) with earth balance, alongside a stirfry of savoy cabbage, garlic, chick peas and shoyu. This was so delicious my mouth's watering just looking at it.

The week at the beach was beautiful, and was a good way to put another week between the shock of losing my Mom and life going forward. Now I am looking forward to finding a routine.

Monday, April 2, 2012

No New Normal Yet

Tomorrow will be three weeks without my Mom, and we just keep putting one foot in front of the other, but nothing is normal. Driving home from Virginia, I received a job offer from my favorite doctor's office, and I have had my first day of work, but am now on the Gulf of Mexico for a week that was planned months ago for the kids' Spring Break. Longtime readers might remember last year's Spring Break installation. Well, it's basically the same this year, beautiful ocean, lovely condo, in fact, we are in the same unit. I have been taking photos of some healthy food I've been eating, but I didn't bring the right wire, so posting those photos will have to wait.

So for now, I'll share with you this photo, maybe the last one we took of Mama. They came down to be with us for Thanksgiving. Here, Wynne is serenading us before a warm fire on the patio. On the rocker sofa, from left are my Dad, my Mom and me. This photo warms my heart. I have such an urge to lean in and hug her.

Being at the beach is healing, but I'm getting sick of sunscreen getting into my eyes when I cry. Being surrounded by friends here is good. Sometimes I can set my sadness aside for a little while as I relax into the convivial atmosphere. Last night, after dinner, we convened around the table at a neighbor's condo with the others. The host was choosing some "blast from the past" music from the 80's. At one point, one of our neighbors stood up and announced, "Gotta dance!" and then delighted us with a spotlight dance right where he stood. We all burst into laughter at this, and I was instantly reminded of a similar situation several years ago.

I wish I could remember the song. We were at Mom's and Dad's house, and, with the first couple of notes of a song, my Mom brightened up and said, "I love this song! it makes me want to . . . . twit my little everything!" We all laughed, realizing that my mom's enthusiasm for the music had so overcome her that its expression superseded her finding exactly the right words. But she got her point across!