What a Way to Start the Day



The other morning I made breakfast for myself and sat down to eat. I had just gotten a couple of my fave magazines, so those were ready to be perused. I made myself comfortable and dug in.


First, I ate a fresh orange. It was so perfect, it was as if I had never eaten an orange before. I could hardly believe it.


Next, I took a bite of a fresh toasted torta. I had spread some new-to-me imported Italian butter over the hot bread and when I took a bite, I could taste the fat of the Italian cream and the perfect, La Brea bakery bread. I was smitten.


I then took a sip of coffee. I had brewed some New Orleans chicory coffee and swirled in some half and half. The flavor was sublime.


As I enjoyed what I had thought would be a run-of-the-mill breakfast, I realized I was experiencing a perfect start to my day. As I went about my duties the rest of the morning, right through the afternoon and into the evening, I held on to that lovely feeling. And it was lovely. I may not have a repeat of that morning’s meal, but I do hope to remember the feeling. And I definitely hope to carry that great vibe through my days, as much as I can.


I am still in awe.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles



When will I learn?


Mister and I have been talking about taking a small trip later in the summer, and I said I’d check into the possibility of train travel (vs. driving or flying). And so I did. Check into it. And you know what I found? The same thing I find every single time I have that bright idea: nothing.



Train travel – at least here in the western United States – isn’t very viable, folks. Either it takes 2 to 3 times longer to reach one’s destination, or it’s 2 to 3 times more expensive than other modes of transport. And sometimes a gal finds she can’t get anywhere near point B from point A. I mean, do I really want to spend 10 hours on a train and 4 additional hours on a bus instead of 6 hours in a car? And do I want to pay $500 for the privilege? For a weekend jaunt? I think not.


At some point, Mister asked why I keep trying to take trains. I said it’s because I romanticize train travel. That it’s such a real option in Europe, and that we ourselves have benefited from riding the rails when traveling abroad. That I keep hoping the train will be a real option here. So far, that isn’t the case.




So it’s back to the drawing board. And probably to the car. Or maybe to a plane. But not to a train. Bye-bye choo-choo dreams. Bye-bye.




One of the benefits of getting one’s home in order is enjoying one’s possessions. Bonus! For me, this is experienced in an area I like to call the Tea Room. There, on a table that’s been part of our lives for over a quarter of a century, is a book: The Art Museum Book by Phaidon.



It’s a gi-normous specimen, measuring 13 x 17 inches when closed. It weighs about a metric ton, too. (I’m exaggerating, y’all, but it is heavy.) And the art within its pages is spectacular.



I love that I can look up pieces I’ve seen as well as those I’ve not. I can admire works in various mediums and locations around the globe. And I get to learn a little as I study. I’ve taken to leaving the book open to a particular page for a while, until I feel somewhat familiar with the presented art. Then I find a new page and leave the book open to it. It’s fun and it’s so much bigger than my experience or my life.



This book was a gift from Mister and it keeps on giving. Now that the Tea Room is inviting and cozy, I find myself enjoying this book more often than ever. Living with art is precious to me. The Art Museum Book by Phaidon now contributes daily to my life. I am truly blessed.

What Do I See?



About a month ago, a friend and her mum invited me to go on a native plant tour. For those unaware, we here in California are experiencing an ugly drought and water-hog lawns are therefore seen as evil, evil, evil. Sadly, most of us have lawns. Learning about native plants can help deal with our consumption.


Anyhoo – it was pretty awesome and I was particularly interested in design using plants of varying heights. Sometimes when we think of plants needing little water, our minds go straight to desert foliage. I’m a big fan of that look, but I don’t want to limit my options. The plant tour opened my eyes to the amazing possibilities in the world of low-water yards.



One homeowner was gracious enough to invite attendees back this past weekend. She wanted to give us the opportunity to see the native garden in bloom. I jumped at the chance and this time Mister tagged along. I wanted him to broaden his thinking, too, as the dude has to live with me and whatever I end up doing to the front yard. We took our time, and at some point I looked over and said, “That wasn’t doing that before.” I pointed to a large, purple shrub and wondered aloud if it could possibly be a Smoke Bush. I’d only seen photos, so I wasn’t quite sure. We meandered in that general direction and when we approached, a few people were talking about the plant and how beautiful it was. Turns out it was indeed a Smoke Bush.



I plan to keep investigating front yard options and to learn more about hardscapes. I’ve no idea when Mister and I will bite the bullet and rip out the lawn. We may just let it die. Either way, I’m excited about the project and knowing I can get my very own Smoke Bush is crazy-smile-inducing.

I Don’t Know How They Do It



Yesterday Mister and I attended a birthday party for our 2-year-old friend, Ben. It took place in a beautiful park on a warm, sunny day.


That last bit is a lie. For though it was indeed a beautiful park, it was also overcast and cold, friends. The skies looked threatening the entire time we were there, and the cold dragged my core temperature down to a place that left me shivering and wondering how many hours it would take to regain my body’s comfort setting. But I digress…


So there we were, in a lovely park, surrounded by friends and their kids. And at some point I realized I didn’t have it in me to go on the nature walk with the whole gang. It wasn’t that I was too weak or tired, it was simply that I don’t really know how to deal with little kids. I can handle one at a time, easy-peasy. But in a group? Not so much. And those little nuggets were in herd-mentality mode. If one wanted to run circles around trees, they all did. If one decided to climb a step-ladder at the edge of the picnic area, a queue ensued. If one enjoyed plopping down on his diaper-padded bum, they all plopped. And did I mention their seemingly endless energy? No? Well it’s freaking mesmerizing, y’all. There were a few times flies flew in my open mouth, as watching the kids was a jaw-dropping experience. The more they ran, the more they wanted to run. The more they chased bubbles, the more they wanted to chase bubbles. Honestly, I do not understand their energy, as my own body behaves in a completely opposite manner when it comes to activity. If I accidentally run, I absolutely do not wish to run more. If I chase bubbles, they’re usually in a fluted glass and after downing them I simply do not chase anything else.


Anyhoo – the kids were all happy as could be, in good moods, and they were darling. (Really!) And the birthday boy, Ben, was about the cutest thing ever. Watching him was precious. We happen to adore that kid, and being part of his life is a blessing. Observing him as he grows is a treat. And he’s a cool kid, so it’s also fun.


I get all that. I get that I’m privileged to know this child and that I will likely know him – always. What I don’t get is how his parents (and all parents, really) do it. How do they keep their energy reserves filled in order to parent the kids? How do they herd those cats and feed them and bathe them and read them stories and teach them and love them and not pass out mid-random-afternoon? I was just watching the little scamps run around for a couple of hours and I was exhausted.


Here’s what I know. I am not childless. I am child-free. And I thank God for that one, y’all. I’ll leave the child-rearing to the professionals, thank-you-very-much. So to all my friends with kids: kudos! Great job! Way to go!


Heaven knows – better you than me.




Yesterday Mister sent me to a spa for a massage. A massage! He was worried about my physical well-being and thought some tending would do me good.


I don’t often get massages, so it was a real treat. And Mister was right. It did me good. What a swell guy I’ve got.

Siena Sky



This work is based on a photo of the sky in Siena, Italy. One fall afternoon, Mister and I rode out a brief rain at a quaint trattoria adjacent to the Piazza del Campo, the city’s main “square.” Afterwards, we went for a stroll. We wandered into the town hall – Palazzo Pubblico.  I looked up, saw the gorgeous 14th century tower, Torre del Mangia, and snapped a few pics.



For me, this painting is all things Italian, old and new. The sky takes my breath away, in a manner I’ve only experienced in Tuscany. The varying colors of the stones remind me of the ever-changing landscape. The reflections in the Gothic windows somehow manage to pull me back in time to familiar memories and push me forward to an unknown future.



For now, this painting is on a wall. Eventually, it will be hung on a ceiling, which is where I intended. And it will always – always – remind me of Siena.

Pencils Down



The vertigo started 2 days ago. The back pains started 4 days ago. I lost feeling in one of my fingers over the weekend, and I don’t remember when the random bleeding of my right thumb began.


For a few weeks now, Mister and I have been busting our asses in the homie, trying to get it ready for an inspection thingie. As it is scheduled to go down today, the time has come to rest and hope for the best.


The truth is, it’s been good to take care of the house. And the joint is looking pretty top-notch, if I say so myself. That, friends, equals a benefit for us, as we’re the fools who live here. Honestly, I don’t know why we let things slide, but we do. This burst of Spring Cleaning will surely now be appreciated by us both.


As for my body, I’ve got aches and pains and band-aids in places I didn’t know could be achy, pain-y or band-aid-y. I will surely recover, however, so it’s all okay. Or rather, it will be. And while I recover, I’ll get to do it in a clean, orderly home, where I may just sleep for 2 days straight.

Never Too Late



Yesterday I came across an excerpt from a new book, Getting There: A Book of Mentors. The piece was written by Matthew Weiner, creator of the fab show “Mad Men.” (Here’s the link to the piece.)


I loved this bit of advice from Mr. Weiner. I’m no spring chicken, friends. And while I don’t feel limited in what I can accomplish in life, no matter what my age may be, I do occasionally come across a peer who feels as if her options are limited – based solely on her age. With very few exceptions, that sort of thinking is bullshit. I mean, sure, a gal of a certain age certainly cannot become Miss Teen USA. I’ll grant you that one. But come on! Do we really need to shut down our own dreams and aspirations, just because of trips around the sun?


Anyhoo, I plan to get the aforementioned book. The Matthew Weiner piece is good enough to get me to read the whole danged thang. Right now – I’m just enjoying the glow from the excerpt.

Beer Am Be Good



Last night Mister was working late and I had hit the wall with working around the homie. Out of the blue, my friend Baker Jen called and we ended up talking for a couple of hours. During the conversation, I decided to have myself a beer. Because beer am be good, y’all. Anyhoo – while talking with Baker Jen, I thought of a few nice things about beer (and alcohol in general).


I swear more when I drink. Now friends – I can’t believe it’s possible for me to swear more, but apparently I can. As Baker Jen was there at the beginning of last night’s conversation – before I had a couple of pints – and at the end, she could tell you just how much more I can swear. True story.


Two nights ago – after a cocktail – I met Bob Blumer, a co-author of Pizza On The Grill. We talked a bit about his book and his technique, and then he told me how the latest edition includes recipes for gluten-free crust. I looked at him, paused a moment, then said, “I feel like the ‘Patrick Henry’ of bread: Give me gluten or give me death!” Later that night it occurred to me that that guy is going to totally steal that from me. Damn.


Baker Jen and I were talking about martinis. She is into something called a Paisley Martini, which I believe will be right up Mister’s alcoholic alley. I told her I’m a vodka martini gal. Dirty. Dirrrrty. And I’m not talking high-school-cheerleader dirty either. Porn-star dirty. Again, true story.


There was a lot more talk about drinking, and a lot more swearing (from me). At some point, Mister made it home and I knew it was time to call it an evening.


I had a lot of laughs with Baker Jen. We also talked a lot of life. She’s a good soul. A good gal. And a good friend. It’s pretty freakin’ awesome to know people who accept you for exactly who you are. Sober or not.


True story.