Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dirt Bag Alert

This sign, boldly positioned, in the parking lot of a very tasty Texas style BBQ Restaurant in Walnut Creek, CA made me laugh. Gotta love it!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

They Wore Red

They Wore Red

The youthful hearts standing aside the bride
and groom wore Red.
The ladies, lingering in an enchanted drape of crimson,
drawn to the matching vest of proud groomsmen.
Red speaking boldly, never in a whisper, of
love, and hope, and dreams.
Red celebrating wildly, arms flung wide, hearts open
to unfolding moments.
Red remembering sweetly the reason for song, and toast, and tipping glass.
Red, forever a reminder of memories sweet, of memories dear.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Life Force

..........from Martha Graham, famous dancer and choreographer (1894-1991)

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eve

The early morning sky viewed through the south facing deck doors of my bedroom tantalizes with glorious shades of peach, lightening by the minute into daylight. Dry, cool, and gorgeous are the beginnings of this most favorite day of the year for me. Thanksgiving Eve.

Laura is home. Chris and Heather fly in from Oakland today and will be joining us round the table for the feast tomorrow. There are many blessings in my life and for these I'm grateful and give thanks.

To all; have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fork in the Road

I scurried down the hall of the intensive care unit to write down verbatim what he had stated so powerfully, so exquisitely. His words resonated deeply with me, defining the challenges we so often face when caring for the sickest patients.

"We're coming to a fork in the road and we plan to take it but we don't know which one it is."

This past weekend I was "on call", making hospital rounds for the kidney service, writing notes, and coordinating care plans with colleagues. One patient was extremely ill, admitted in the middle of the night with a septic syndrome, renal failure, and myriad other complications. This (unfortunately) is not unusual. The critical care doctor in charge of his management is excellent; someone for whom I have the highest regard. We had a several minute conversation regarding this patient, acknowledging the ambiguities of his care, the decisions that required attention in the setting of "no good options", and the need for a thoughtful "time out" before choosing the path.

How different is real-life medicine from glamorized television shows such as E.R. or Grey's Anatomy where there's seemingly only one choice, the "right way" and the "wrong way" with doctors making crucial decisions in seconds, suddenly knowing exactly what must be done? Not so.

I agree with my colleague; there are many times when there is a fork in the road. We will take "it" because the time will come when we must decide, but right now in this moment we don't know which fork we'll walk. We understand this implicitly although others may not. An observer may conclude that nothing of substance is happening but until a decision is made, the choices weigh heavily on those who must forge ahead on behalf of those that cannot decide for themselves.

Tale of 4 Pairs of Brown Shoes

Four pairs of brown shoes found their way into my suitcase for the "wedding weekend". I wore autumn colors for the dressed up and dressed down moments so basic brown worked just fine for footwear. A couple of brown purses; one for everyday and one for the wedding made the outfits complete.

My feet, for the most part were "happy" during this five day excursion because I wore the weathered, broken in shoes I took to Europe last year more than any of the others. These shoes have walked me hundreds of miles and leave my feet feeling comfortable and ready for more. They look it too.

Trouble is, these gems were appropriate for part-time usage only and the three other pairs phased in for dressier events; such as the rehearsal dinner (casual but Texas style; boot worthy), a lovely dinner out with Wayne and Tina, and of course, the wedding itself with the dinner and dancing that followed.
These boots, despite the tapered toe are actually not too bad; probably because they're wide enough where it counts and the leather is soft and pliable. These worked fine and my feet were still quite happy.

Next up were these "mules", not too bad on the feet either unless you're walking long distances where steady gripping of the toes is required to keep them on your feet. I kept that to a minimum and defaulted to the grungy ones up top whenever I could.

Ahhhhh....but the best (or worst) comes last. These wedding shoes made me stop and ask the very good question again: Why do we women do this to our poor feet???? Why do we purchase a shoe for looks alone? First off, I needed a three inch heel because I was too lazy to get my dressed hemmed and needed the height to keep me from dragging on the floor. Secondly, I got a good deal. Third, they looked HOT and were the right color. Sure, I tried them on and walked around Nordstrom Rack in front of the mirror for all of 30 seconds. Sadly, 30 seconds cannot begin to compare to the nine hours I spent in them, including an hour or so of dancing on the day of my son's wedding. By the end of the night, the shoes were still quite HOT but my poor toes were a swollen, sore mess; screaming messages to my brain which fortunately was too high on JOY to notice until I shed them in the car on the way back to the hotel.

Just like wedding gowns, and mother-of-the groom gowns, one wonders what to do with shoes that probably will never really work with any other outfit or event that I attend. Three inch spike heels with a severely pointed toe in size 8, anyone?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hard to Believe....

As I write this blog post, I think back to exactly a week ago. We were gathered at the church for the "rehearsal", lining up just so, and taking direction from the pastors and wedding coordinator. Once the "rehearsing" finished we headed to the Back Forty for a casual BBQ feast with the wedding party and out-of-town family and friends.

Can it be a week ago already? Seems like it was just yesterday that I picked up the microphone to welcome all of our guests to the event, acknowledging the distances traveled by so many, and all the states of the USA represented. We were blessed to have so many extended family and friends make the trip to California to celebrate the wedding of two very dear young people.

But yet, has it only been a week? Seems like so much has happened since that perfectly cloudless evening of 60 degrees when we toasted the bride and groom with Coronas and pushed back smoked ribs, brisket, and chicken prepared Texas style in a party room above the main restaurant. The following day, the Wedding Day was jammed packed with activities from early morning to late at night and the following days and nights full with leave taking, goodbyes, and phasing back into "real life".

It's curious how the perception of time is challenged by major events (like a wedding weekend). A week may seem to pass in the blink of an eye on the one hand and on the other, be so immensely consuming that the time expands making seven days feel more like several weeks. Right now, I'm feeling in a time warp, as if I'm still in wedding mode but yet plunged back into daily life and far removed from the festivities of last weekend. Whatever can be said about all this, one thing I know for sure.....Once the celebrations begin, the events whiz by and before you know it, they're over.

But, the memories remain.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Savoring the Small Moments

So many advised me that the emotional, gorgeous, and action-packed moments of a wedding weekend would feel surreal and blurred around the edges. Although we arrived in California several days early and stayed an extra day after the wedding, the time whizzed by and before I could take it all in, the celebrations were over. Thankfully, there are hundreds of photographs, specific memories, and feelings to process.

In the midst of the experience, I consciously tried to pull myself into the moment to see, hear, and feel details that might have otherwise passed me by. This was no easy task but in the hour or so I spent in the "Sweet Room" with the bridesmaids, the bride, and the mother of the bride as we readied for the photo shoot planned for early afternoon and later the wedding, I felt very much in the present. We all were bundles of emotion. For me joy, excitement, bittersweet, and jitters coexisted all at once. Once the make-up and hair stylist left, the photographers arrived and the suite became a bevy of activity as gowns left their hangers behind and cradled us in fabric, textures, and colors. Gorgeous moments to savor.

The flowers arrived around the same time; wonderful bouquets of red and salmon colored roses for the bridesmaids, nosegays of orchid and roses for the mothers of the bride and groom and of course, the gorgeous white roses for the bride. What I noticed and savored were the tiny droplets of moisture on the rose petals in my nosegay. Beautiful.

The floor and every other flat surface of the suite bore signs of activity. Coffee, water bottles, snacks, make up brushes, hairpins, jewelry, clothing, and shoes of all types (flip flops next to 3 inch heels) interspersed with all the women who were breathing the anticipation of the day. I made myself stop, breathe, and look out on all the wonder. And, it was fun; so much fun.

Amidst the frenzy there was much joy and a sense of connectedness one to another. I'm sure we all carry our own specific memories and tidbits of focus. For me, those beautifully perfect dewdrops on the rose petals of my bouquet captured perfectly the value of slowing down to witness the intricacy hidden in the momentum of that most treasured hour spent in the "Sweet Room".

Sunday, November 15, 2009

....of Silver Goblets and Wedding Cake

The day after the wedding is an interesting bit of time to negotiate. My thoughts take me back to yesterday at this moment when we walked down the aisle of St. Matthew Lutheran Church where in front of extended family and friends, Chris and Heather committed themselves one to the other in marriage. The ceremony was beautiful, emotional, and the view from the front row pew on the right side of the church made for unobstructed views of the wedding party. The vision of those two young people surrounded by the love of so many was powerful, the pastors words equally powerful. There were moments of humor, surprise, and of course misty and more than misty eyes all around. Ahhhh, weddings. Was I overcome with a flood of tears as I had suspected? That's the subject for another post.

The reception was dreamlike. The hours seem to float by on joy unfurled. Great food, drink, company, music, dance and toasts. The picture above shows the silver goblets and the wedding cake on Heather and Chris's table at the reception.

The goblets have a special history in our family. Purchased in 1966 by my sister Mary Margaret for my parent's 25th Wedding Anniversary, these goblets have been used in family weddings and anniversaries ever since. The tradition continues. The weathered box that holds them in between uses is covered with my mother's handwriting detailing the dates used and the particular event. I'm hoping I can get my Mom to write Nov. 14, 2009: Heather and Chris's Wedding on the lid of that box along with all the other names and dates when I get home to Seattle.

The wedding cake was a vision, replete with fall flowers. I'm sorry to say I never got a bite, so busy was I socializing and moving from place to place. Before I knew it, the honored couple stepped into the waiting limousine and was whisked away. More than one person told me, "Enjoy each moment; they pass so quickly".

Today is a day for memories, reaching back for the sweetness of those hours passed in the presence of all things that come from joy and hope.

Blessings to my son and new daughter-in-law. I love you!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wedding Eve

I'm trying to calm a mind on over drive. It's 8 AM on Friday morning in sunny, gorgeous Walnut Creek, CA. The landscape of the next 36 hours or so lies ahead, thoughtfullly planned but still, the future where unknowns and twists and turns weave threads into the pattern of a well planted field of dreams.

Poetic, I know. Dramatic, I know.

What I need is a good stretch, some strong coffee and a couple aspirin.

Tonight Denny and I host the Rehearsal Dinner for the wedding party and out of town guests. All I know is the food better be tasty, the drinks up to par, and whatever words of greeting that come out of my mouth (or D's mouth) at the podium microphone be smooth as butter. Welcome all and thank you for coming to support Chris and Heather on this journey of commitment.

Here we go; let's get out of bed and get this day rolling!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Passports, Tickets, Money"

I remember, back in the day, Aruba-days, someone was always coming or going. We made regular trips to the airport; joyful at arrivals but often teary eyed for departures, especially when family members were taking leave for "the states". Then there were times when we all left together, on vacation to "the states" for weeks on end during the summer. Or, times when a visiting guest who had probably overstayed their welcome, was finally leaving the sunny island to go home. There were many permutations and combinations on a general theme.

Never mind the luggage, although certainly suitcases were of some importance, the hope being that they'd arrive at the destination in good shape and on time. The big three essentials were: passports, tickets, and money. If you had those, and forgot everything else, you'd make it just fine. Hence, the last minute check list before leaving the house to be certain the big three items were firmly in possession. The passports, tickets, and money trilogy became a sort of mantra, a chant, perhaps a prayer for safe journeys across the seas.

Would that a passport, ticket, and money be all I need to get me through the next few days. My mind is full of details; don't forget this, do that, check up on such and so. One minute confident that all is smooth, the next disrupted by the least little bump in the road.

At times like these, when the wonder and joy of a much anticipated wedding between two young people who I love dearly unfolds, I take comfort in the writings of Fr. Robert Spitzer, a Jesuit priest whose no-nonsense advice resonates powerfully right about now. In his book, Five Pillars of the Spiritual Life, he discusses the power of prayer, even short-phrase-prayers offered up at any time and in any place as the need arises. The most powerful prayer of all? "Thy Will be Done."

Thoughtful planning, consideration, and best intentions take us a long ways down the path. Much like passports, tickets, and money, we do all we can to create the stage for success. And then, we let go and let grace carry us the rest of the way. "Thy will be done."

Monday, November 9, 2009


There is no sense worrying about the weather.

Worrying about the weather is a waste of time.

Weather will be what it will be whether or not I like it or not.

The weather in Spokane, Seattle, Walnut Creek, and the U.S. Virgin Islands is not in my control, nor anyone's control.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Einstein Says....

"Computers are incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid. Human beings are incredibly slow, inaccurate, and brilliant. Together they are powerful beyond imagination."
Albert Einstein
US (German-born) physicist (1879 - 1955)
Couldn't have said this better myself. Don't you agree?

P.S. My Mother shook hands with Einstein in New York City at an event where he was present; she was very proud to have met him, albeit ever so briefly.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why Do Some People Cry at Weddings?

Weddings are on my mind of late; must have something to do with the upcoming nuptials in California in let's say, about 9 days. Yikes!

Among other tasks, it's time to get prepared for the inevitable (or perhaps not?) uncontrollable flow of tears. Actually, I have no idea how I'll react. At my own wedding, there were no tears, not even close. But now, put me in the midst of wedding guests sitting in witness of the grand event and the outcome is vastly different. All I need to hear is the first few notes of the processional for the bridesmaids and I'm a lost cause. Truly. And, once the bride starts down the aisle I'm off the deep end, awash in an uncontrollable flood.

What's totally dumb is that I never learn my lesson. I continue to show up at weddings with nary a tissue in sight or at best, one wimpy little sheet stuffed into a teeny, tiny clutch between the lipstick and the cell phone. Needless to say, by mid service, I look like I've been crying for a week and the tears keep welling up. From where? What's the source of this never ending fountain?

Which brings me to the "why" of this situation. Why do weddings make some people cry? In the midst of my silent wedding wails, I haven't a clue why I'm reacting this way. Tears of joy? Happiness? Salutation to love? The start of a new journey of commitment one to another? I'd really like to know.

What I do know is that this time around, I'm showing up prepared. Even if I have to slip the entire box of tissues into the "parents of the groom" pew ahead of time, I will not be caught without. And I'd best go light on the makeup too. But, who knows....I may not cry at all. Fat chance.

Monday, November 2, 2009

November Arrives

November arrives. Chris and Heather's Wedding takes place in less than 2 weeks. There are so many last minute details to consider and decisions to be made (and I'm only the mother-of-the-groom!) Plans are falling into place; smoothly so far and I'm beginning to feel a sense of excitement about a wonderful event in the making.

I've already started putting "mission critical" items into a carry-on bag for the flight. The rest of our luggage can be checked but certain things absolutely need to arrive when we do and cannot be misplaced, lost, delayed or left behind accidentally. Perish the thought!

The rehearsal dinner for the wedding party and out of town family and friends should be a fun gathering. Low keyed and casual is what Chris and Heather really wanted the night before their wedding. This will be a jeans, BBQ, and beer/wine affair at a local venue in Walnut Creek. I need to comb through my country music CDs and find some good tunes to go with those ribs and brisket. At last count, we'll be a group of 55 or so! We're so pleased that family and friends from as far away as Florida and Massachusetts will be joining us. Many of our extended family have not seen each other in decades.

More good news to share as well: My Dad, who I accompanied to three doctor's appointments last week for a particularly nasty skin rash on his face, is so much better. I stressed myself out worrying that either he or my Mom would get really sick right before the wedding. Such an unfortunate bit of timing has happened before, why not again? But, the miracle of spot-on diagnosis and prompt treatment has my Dad raving about how much better he feels this week compared to last. Yes!!!

I'm so sorry that Mom and Dad won't be attending Chris and Heather's wedding. The last time they journeyed out of state for a wedding was over three years ago. They were a lot younger in spirit and physical abilities back in 2006 when we flew to Houston for my niece's (and their granddaughter's) wedding. As it was, they were pushed around the maze of airports in wheelchairs and Mom was using a walker the rest of the time. I will miss their presence at my son's wedding but I accept the reasons for their absence. Mom will occasionally mention something about clothing or shoes for the wedding as if she is going but we've reminded her many times that she and Dad will have pictures and videos to watch instead. She remembers for awhile and then slips back into thinking she'll be there. But Dad, well....he gets it and he understands.

I'm grateful that he's feeling better. I took this picture of him yesterday with "Buffy" the cat calling his lap home base. He looks amazing compared to last week at this time.

Moving forward.