Autumn in Alameda

Today is a glorious fall day full of slanting sunshine and soft breezes.  And, since it rained last weekend while we were away for my sister’s wedding, the yard is full of redwood duff.  It’s on the patio, the deck, the path, in the plants, in my hair, and where ever else it may drop. So, I’ve been sweeping and raking up duff and debris this morning (after a very pleasant walk to breakfast at WesCafe and a stroll through the farmer’s market on the way home), and I know I’ll be sweeping again next weekend. The fallen branches and tiny cones are our backyard’s version of autumn leaves.  Yet, it’s hard to imagine that our (hopefully) rainy winter is around the corner because today is warm and clear and beckoning everyone to come outside. Still, there are hints of autumn.  When outside, we have to notice the elaborate Halloween decorations created by many of our neighbors.  Jack-o-lanterns and gravestones and  my three year old friend who wore his bumble-bee crash helmet as he walked and rolled his scooter all through his parents’ pumpkin carving party are all surely signs of the season.  My cats are getting fuzzier and sleepier, and the drug store is full of Christmas decorations, so fall must be in full swing!  Enjoy the day.  Enjoy the season.  Enjoys the changes.   conespatio


Some thoughts about my sister this week of her wedding

Imagine a giant button that reads “I’M SORRY!”  My sister threatened to wear such a blanket apology to her high school reunion, and we laughed because, well, we knew her back then. She could be hard to live with. She threw things.  She borrowed clothes and shoes that mysteriously got lost or ruined.  (One pair of running shoes showed up at a friend’s flooded house years and years later.)  Her sarcastic remarks were legendary as was her tendency to answer a question with an attack.  I think that she was probably a little nicer at school than at home, but maybe she wasn’t.  Yet, when I think of her now, that mean girl is hard to imagine.

My sister has grown to be humorous, generous, kind, and the person who keeps the family together.  She opens her home for all the celebrations, and she makes everybody feel welcome.  She dotes on our niece and nephew, buying them great presents and arranging fun outings.  She drives Mama to appointments and deals with the doctors.  She makes sure that we vegetarians are fed well in the land of barbecue, and she hasn’t thrown anything at me in decades. And as a real testament to her humanity: her almost grown children (who have inherited her flair for showmanship) adore her and want her to be happy.  I do too.

So, my darling sister Susie, I wish you every happiness as you officially tie the knot with your sweetie.  I think grown-up love is swell.  Cheers and love, and yes, you can borrow my shoes.




On Thursdays, I dress like my cat.

We have a lovely new front-office person at school.  She’s charming, friendly, and extremely capable. She also likes the way I dress! She even asked where I shop! I suspect that the fact that we are both tall, mature blondes in a sea of younger folks may be behind the inquiry.  While I love the compliments, they surprised me since I tend to dress for comfort over style these days.  My high heels, for example, are long gone, and my waistbands are stretchy as often as not.  Still, I do like the recognition.  And yet, I feel a little pressure to step up my game! Maybe it’s not too late for me.  Then again, I usually have coffee spots on my blouse by 9:30 am.

Coincidentally, I recently discovered Accidental Icon, and I’ve been quite taken by her fearless style and intellect.  What other blogs are out there for women d’un certain âge?

One Weed at a Time…

I fret over too many things that are well beyond my control.  I fret over my mother’s health and the upcoming election.  I fret over traffic, truth, and the demise of a 35 year old turntable.  Feral cats, students, my squinky eye, or just about anything can hijack my brain and set it to spinning a recording of worries that is not productive.  To counteract this ridiculous loop,  I turn to something that I can control: weeds. I pull weeds, and I try to meditate as I do so.   Yep,  weeding is meditation.  I select one part of the yard and start pulling.  Today it was the front path and the thin planting bed next to the house.  I pulled with my fingers or with the fork and yanked those suckers.  I gave the pulled weeds the name of a problem and dropped them in an empty kitty litter bucket.  At the end of about an hour, I had cleaner planting beds, a clearer head, and a tiny sense of control.  But I have really dirty fingernails.

Lessons and Reflections from a Small Summer

The freight train that is the school year has started and is pulling me along with it.  Granted, I am hanging on to a handle and flying behind, but I have a few moments today to think back on the summer.  I call this one a small summer because we didn’t take any big trips nor did we complete any big home improvement projects.  We tackled small things, and–when we did get away–long weekends to destinations under 4 hours away were our trips of the summer.  So what did I notice about this small summer?  Here are a few thoughts: Continue reading “Lessons and Reflections from a Small Summer”

On Zucchini and Failure

For a blissful thirty minutes yesterday, the refrigerator crisper was free of zucchini.  I had successfully used up all my delicious green goblins in a zucchini parmesan and this yummy Very Full Tart (from Plenty).  vftart Then I went outside to the garden where two more ripe zukes awaited harvest.  Le sigh.

I’ve had to be happy with small successes this summer because more things didn’t happen than did. Continue reading “On Zucchini and Failure”

Local Effects

While Southern California is on fire right now, our little island looks relatively green and healthy.  Looks being the operative word here because the effects of the drought have been stealthy in our little neighborhood.  We had a good winter here in the Bay Area with near average rainfall, so everyone was breathing sighs of relief until this summer.  We’ve all gotten used to brown lawns and rock gardens, but the loss of two trees on our block is a reminder that California is still suffering from years of below-average rainfall. Continue reading “Local Effects”