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Funerals and Weddings

Another uncle has passed. My father has lost all four of his brothers now. I suppose it is the way it should go when you are the youngest of eight. It’s just he and one sister left. Despite (save for one) all of them living well into their 80s and beyond, it’s still sad.

Yesterday was Uncle Andy’s funeral. Though the circumstances aren’t the best, I look forward to seeing my cousins. We used to say, “Funerals and weddings.” Lately, it’s just funerals.

Uncle Andy, second from left, with my parents on their wedding day.

Uncle Andy, second from left, with my parents on their wedding day.

There was a slight hiccup before I was to make the one and a half to two-hour drive (depending on traffic). After delivering one kid to daycare, one to school and then getting my car back from Mike at his work, I decided to stop for gas in Santa Rosa at the gas station next to the Starbucks so I could get coffee for the road. When I pulled up to the pump and reached for my wallet, I realized I didn’t have my ATM card with me. Nor the one credit card I have for emergencies. Both were at home in a different purse. Crap. I sat for a second wondering if I should drive the 20 minutes back home and then decided to ask Siri where the nearest Wells Fargo Bank was. It was 9am, banks are open, and I was a little ahead of schedule.


I turned on the navigator and and drove to a Business Park in Santa Rosa where there was no sign of a Wells Fargo. In the process, and in my confusion, I was honked at by the car behind me following me into the parking lot. Okay, Jeez! I stopped my car in the lot to give Siri another chance then turned around to go. The woman driving the car that honked at me took a moment to scream obscenities at me as she walked through the parking lot. I love people.

The next Wells Fargo was in the Lucky store and it didn’t open until 10am. After asking a clerk is they could cash a personal check and being told no, my eyes began to sting with frustration. Back to the car, back to Siri, and on to the third location. An extremely friendly young teller helped my mood. I didn’t have an ID with me (also in the purse at home), but after we determined my identity through a series of questions and a correct pin number, he handed me $60 in cash. There was even fresh coffee on a table in the bank. And cookies! Thank you, Wells Fargo.

As I was pumping gas I wondered if I was meant to go at all. I wondered if all that was a sign that I should turn around and go home. Or just go to work. I thought about the two bald tires I’m driving around on. Maybe I’m going to have a blowout on Lakeville Highway and veer into the path of an oncoming semi. This is how my mind works. I’m the one on the overbooked flight wondering if there is a reason they are offering a free round trip ticket to anyone willing to give up their seat. This must mean the plane is going down. I should take the ticket. I will be interviewed on the news as the woman who survived because of a twist of fate. But I don’t take the ticket. I stay in my seat and the plane doesn’t crash. And my tire didn’t have a blowout either.

It was great seeing all of my cousins yesterday.


This is a rough draft excerpt from that book I’m attempting to write:

I sat across a table from a young police officer in uniform. He had a yellow legal pad in front of him and he was taking notes. We were in windowless room devoid of any color at the city of Monterey’s police department. A friend suggested that I inform the police of the exact day and time that I was planning to leave my husband. When I called to do that, it was suggested that I meet with an officer first. D-Day was still a week or so away. My husband was not someone that I could sit down with and say, “I want out.” He was someone I had to leave like a thief in the night.

I was on autopilot. My decision had been made. I had awoken to a thought the week prior that had solidified my escape and there would be no wavering. Part of me was completely numb and the other part of me sat shivering under florescent lights. The officer asked if I was cold. It wouldn’t have mattered how warm the room was. He left for a moment and then returned with a blanket; gray, the kind found in all the trunks of cop cars. He picked up his pen. He wanted to know my history with the man I was married to. He told me the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence was when she tries to leave. I said, “I know. That’s why I’m here.”

He had questions. “Where will you go?” he asked.
“To a friend’s house,” I said.
“Will he look for you there?”
“He doesn’t knows where she lives.
“Does he know her?”
“Yes, we work together.”
“Then you can’t go there. What about family?”
“They live too far away and I have to work.”

I had questions. “What about my son? I can’t keep him from his father, can I?” I asked.
“Is your son in danger?” he asked.
“No. Absolutely not.”

“Here is my best advice,” he said. “You need to take at least one week off of work and you need to go to a women’s shelter. You can stay there longer than a week, but you shouldn’t go anywhere for at least a week. You and your son need to be someplace where he can’t find you for awhile and a week will hopefully allow him to cool off. You need to leave him a note telling him that you are not taking his son away from him, but that you need a week to breath and then you will make arrangements for him to see your son. Make a copy of the note.”

“Okay,” I said. He took out his card, wrote a number on the back and handed it me.

“If you can’t safely leave on your own, call me. Call me anyway on that day. The number on the back is to the shelter. You can’t call them until you are on your way. Then they will give you the address.”

How sad that he has that number memorized, I thought.

Thursday Mornings

There was no coffee in bed this morning. I nudged my cat off the back of my neck and dragged my ass from the warmth of my down comforter at 5:45am. Not necessarily because I had to be up that early, but because I could hear kitchen noises and knew that Mike was busy with his morning routine and I wanted to be sure I had enough time with him to talk about the boys’ schedule.

Thursdays are my mornings with them and it’s new enough to still leave me in a slight state of panic. I’m responsible for getting a two-year old and five-year old up, dressed, and delivered to daycare, and then to get myself to work never on time. I’ve been doing this now for about a month, but today there was the added stress of delivery to daycare in time for the school bus to pick up Liam. Yes, we have a kindergartener as of yesterday!

I think my trepidation with the morning thing comes from my experience with my own son. He was an absolute bear in the morning. From day one he was a good sleeper and by that I mean every morning of his life I would have to wake him up. I never had a problem sleeping in on Saturdays when he was a little guy because I always woke up first. You can imagine what school mornings were like with him. Oh, the different things I tried. When he was in 5th grade I bought him a ridiculous alarm clock that was a gorilla one-man-band and I put it across the room. That thing could wake the dead. I told him he was on his own. From downstairs I could hear that stupid thing blaring. He slept through it. I figured he would sleep through college.

Ha! I found it on Ebay.

Ha! I found it on Ebay.

The past few Thursdays have gone really well. The boys are easy to wake up, but the clock wasn’t ticking then. Sure, I still had to accomplish all of the aforementioned duties, but if I was late, I was late, and it wasn’t that big of a deal. Also, daycare feeds them breakfast so I didn’t have to worry about that, but with Liam off to school instead of slacking off with his brother, I now have to feed him before we leave the house and be on time for the 7:45 bus.

Mike greeted my sleepy, smooshed face with a smile and told me I was beautiful. Ha! Now I will never believe anything he says. Since it was close enough to 6 I wondered if it was too early to wake them. Maybe we could get them up and dressed before Mike left the house at 6:35? These were just thoughts rolling through my head. Silly. I can do this! I got a cup of coffee and sat at the table. Mike joined me. Then we went down the list of things I needed to do:

Okay, lunches are made. Let’s put them in the backpacks now so I don’t mix them up.
Take these diapers to daycare for Finn. They’ve run out.
The daycare lady is going to tell me where to find the monthly invoices.
What clothes should I dress them in? Put extra underwear in Liam’s backpack. And a t-shirt.
Extra pants in Finn’s.
Make breakfast for Liam. How about a breakfast burrito? Just give Finn a yogurt if he wants something because he’ll eat at daycare.
Feed Maeby.
Feed Forrest.
Scoop Maeby’s litter (still watching the urine output).
Get myself ready.

At 6:20 I went into their room and turned on the light, adjusting the dimmer because I’m sweet like that. Then I rubbed their backs and whispered it was time to start waking up. They are so cute when they are sleeping. They are always cute, but especially cute when they are sleeping. After that, I did as much as I could without them, like more coffee, feeding cats, brushing my teeth, and kitchen clean-up. When I heard Mike say, “Gotta go,” I turned from the sink with soapy hands and yelled, “NOOOOOO!” Not really. I didn’t do that. I kissed him goodbye and said, “I’ve got this.”

Two little boys were safely delivered to daycare at 7:35am and the only thing I forgot was Liam’s hair. I looked at his little face in the rear view mirror as I was driving and there he was with bedhead. Oh, jeez. I wondered if I could tame it with spit. Instead I just did my best with a finger comb when we arrived at daycare. I was still there when the bus arrived so I snapped a few pictures to text to his mom and dad.


“Good job!” he said after buckling himself all up.

More Laundry

There once was a time when I lived in a Ritz-Carlton hotel and had my laundry delivered folded in square wicker baskets. My panties were wrapped separately in pink tissue paper.

I thought of this as I drove two little boys to daycare this morning in my boyfriend’s old beater. I thought of the towels I had taken from the dryer and quickly folded as I called to the five-year old to wake up. I had already gone in several times to tousle his hair, kiss his cheek, and throw back the covers in an attempt to get him up. The two-year old was already up and dressed. The second time I went in to wake his brother I found him hiding in the closet doing his business. With his diaper changed and a few minutes to spare, there was always laundry to fold in this house. Always.

While chatting with the boys about the hot air balloon that was rising in the western sky, I was thinking about laundry. I thought of those pretty square baskets being delivered to my room all those years ago, and then I thought of the three hampers we have going in the house now. The hampers that are never empty because the minute you’ve emptied them they begin to fill up again.

I wondered about the progression of life. Don’t we work toward making life easier? Shouldn’t I have been doing loads of laundry for three guys years ago and living in the Ritz-Carlton now? I smiled to myself because I know that I’m exactly where I am supposed to be. Yes, I was happy when I was unwrapping my panties from the pink tissue paper, but I’m also happy now.

I find myself smiling to myself a lot lately. I thought of the housekeeper we just hired to come in and clean every two weeks. She makes me smile. With my boyfriend’s new job, we can now afford that luxury. But she doesn’t do laundry, and that’s okay.

The Other Shoe

It’s no secret to most of you who read my blog that this past week was rough. Really rough. My cat was on death’s door and not expected to survive, and I’ve been suffering with lower back pain that began after a run just before the July 4th holiday. It started getting better, but then I lifted a struggling two-year old last Thursday morning and felt an instantaneous pain like I’d never felt before.

As if those two things weren’t enough, there was a third element. I couldn’t exercise. As most of you know, running or biking is my therapy. The inability to take off and let my body help my mind process and deal with my suffering cat had brought me to a low point that I haven’t seen in myself in a very long time. I wasn’t eating or sleeping.

Maeby’s ordeal reads like a chapter out of A Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snicket. It began with a bouquet of flowers that were never intended for me in the first place. And yet they were beautiful, so I put them in a vase on my dining room table. I watched my curious little cat jump up to sniff the flowers. I even saw her chomp on the orange tiger lily not knowing they were deadly to her. I shooed her away, but then left the vase on the table for the next two days where she was free to inspect the flowers when no one was watching.

The flowers showed up on Saturday. By Sunday we could see that she wasn’t feeling well because she tried to throw up and didn’t have an appetite, but she was still resting comfortably and purring. We resisted the costly emergency visit, but we did call and were told it didn’t sound like a dire emergency so we decided to watch her and wait until Monday morning unless she got worse. We woke very early on Monday to the sound of her vomiting and what came up where hair ties. Mystery solved. Or so we thought. I took her to the vet and an xray was inconclusive as to whether there were any more in her stomach. He sent us home and told me to try to get her to eat. She wouldn’t.

Little did we know that the hair ties were the least of her problems. We also didn’t know when she ingested them. We were told they could have been there for awhile. I’m not even sure where she found them because I don’t let her play with them for fear of her swallowing them. I may not have known about lilies, but I do know cats like to swallow stringy things.

I stayed home with her on Monday and saw her declining. After two scary episodes where she tried to hide from me and was foaming at the mouth, I took her back to her vet that afternoon. He kept her overnight. The next morning she seemed better but he felt she probably still had hair ties in her stomach. Given the choice of him doing surgery or referring her to a bigger facility for the non-invasive endoscopy, I opted for the latter. Pre-procedure bloodwork finally identified the real trouble she was in. “Is it possible she ingested lilies?” I was asked. “Fuck. Yes.” I said.

Here we were at 72 hours without any treatment started to rid her kidneys of the toxins. The prognosis was grim. The doctor told us that she had never seen a cat survive with kidney values that high, but she followed up that statement with, “but she isn’t acting like she’s sick,” which prompted me to ask, “Then can you please try to save her?”

Does something bad always have to follow something good? Are we conditioned to believe that when things are going our way that it won’t last? When will the other shoe drop?

I don’t really believe any of that. Sometimes, shit just happens, but it’s interesting to look back on a conversation that I had with Mike few weeks ago. He had just been offered the job of his dreams, and we talked of all the wonderful things that had happened in our lives over the past year. Then he said, “It scares me that things are so good,” and I knew exactly how he felt. I think we can all relate to that.

I know we didn’t do anything to bring that awful week into our lives, but I think it’s important we keep our thoughts in check. Even when I was beginning to resign myself to losing Maeby, I was trying to put negative thoughts out of my head. I found myself wondering what I was going to do with that six-foot cat condo. Should I put it on the curb with a Free sign? Should I take it apart and save it for the next cat that I couldn’t imagine ever wanting? Then I would chastise myself for thinking that way. I closed my eyes and brought up images of her sleeping in my arms like she does every night. I thought about all my friends who were holding her recovery in their hearts.

Perhaps the other shoe did drop, but not for any other reason than a series of unfortunate events. The flowers, the first sign of trouble on a Sunday, the hair ties that delayed diagnosis, things that just happened the way they happened. We learn from these things. We learn life is precious. Any life. We learn we are a community rich with love and support. We learn that a feisty little tortie can win the hearts of her doctors and nurses and beat the odds. And finally, we learn to pick up the other shoe and keep going because life is still wonderful.



Yesterday after work and a visit to the chiropractor I stumbled into the house and decided I wanted a bubble bath. I knew I had at least a half hour (maybe longer) before Mike and the boys got home and my sore and tired body needed a good soak.

This was probably my first bath of the year. I normally only take showers, but every now and then I feel like sitting in hot water.

I borrowed the Mr. Bubble from the boys and dumped a good amount in. I eased myself into the water and then was entertained for the next 20 minutes or so by my cat, Maeby. She had never seen me take a bath and was quite fascinated. She perched herself on the side of the tub and leaned in. She touched the bubbles with her paw and I blew them in her face. I dropped bubble clumps on the floor and she tried to bat them around. When they stuck to her nose or paw, she’d run backwards.

I heard the back door open right about the time I was thinking of getting out. I had left the bathroom door ajar because of Maeby and knowing three boys would potentially come barging in, I covered up with bubbles. Mike and I are thinking Liam is probably too old to see me naked but that didn’t stop him from walking in, saying, “take a bath,”  and begin taking off his clothes to join me. When Liam’s shirt was up and over his eyes I took the opportunity to stand up and grab a towel. I thought I should change the water for him, but then Mike walked in and said he was filthy and it wasn’t necessary.

As I stood in the tub, Liam sat on the edge, swung his feet in, and peed. Then I stepped out and he stepped in.

When to write

I still have that book in me. I don’t know if it will be any good. It might suck, but it’s there. In. My. Head. Waiting to explode onto paper one letter at a time. Actually, there are two books, but I put book one aside and decided book two would become book one.

The issue is when to write. I am finding it increasingly difficult to find the time to write. My plate is full. I have a boyfriend, two little boys who are with me every other weekend, always on Sunday night, every Wednesday, and every other Thursday, a cat, and a full-time job. I do yoga on Tuesday and Thursday nights and early Saturday mornings (try to). I run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays (try to). And do my best to get a bike ride or two in there somewhere (try to).

I’m not complaining. I love it all. In all fairness to those three guys in my life, even when I was without them I found it hard to discipline myself and set aside time to write. That’s what I need to do. I told Mike awhile ago that I should get up with him in the morning. He works four tens. He’s off on Mondays, so strike that, but I could get up with him at 4:15am on Tuesdays through Fridays and write for one to two hours before I go to my real job. That is a TON of writing time.

But this is what that looks like the night before.

Me:  Will you wake me in the morning? I want to get up with you to write.
Mike:  (Eyeroll) Okay.

Morning comes…

Mike:  (Gently rubbing my back) Sweetheart, time to get up.
Me:  Uggghhhh!! NOOOOoooo!!

I realize this is a boring blog, but I’m hoping by saying this out loud for all of my 22 followers to hear, that some of you might hold me to it. You know, occasionally ask me how the book is coming along. Also, I’m hoping that Mike will start dragging me out of bed at 4:15am (literally). I really do love mornings, darling.

View from my desk. Instagram filter: Earlybird! That will be me!

I have a lovely window view from my desk, but this is what sits next to it. Instagram filter: Earlybird! That will be me!

Grandparent’s Day


I have become surrogate grandmother to my dear friend Bridget’s children. This suits me just fine, though I don’t much like being called Grandma. I just want to be called Jojo, which is my nickname’s nickname, and I think it works just fine for a grandmother name, but Parker and Alec, Bridget’s kids, call me Grandma Jojo at their mother’s insistence. I’ve also told my son that I want to be called Jojo when he has kids, but he’s not going for it. He said they will call me Nonna. Nonna is my mom and before that, my grandmother. I think I should be allowed to pick what I want to be called. Pffft.

Anyway, this past Friday was Grandparent’s Day at Parker and Alec’s school and it was also Parker’s 8th birthday so Bridget gave me plenty of notice that I needed to make the trip up to Fair Oaks to spend the day with them. Bridget has lost both parents to fucking cancer and their father’s parents live across the county so I was honored to step in. Bridget also asked if “Dad” could join me. She has taken to calling Mike “dad” of late since she thinks of me as “mom.” We even got an informational email prior to Friday addressed, “Dear Parents.” Neither of us is old enough to be her parents, especially Mike, but it’s cute.

We arrived at the school just as Bridget was texting us so Parker ran out and greeted us and escorted us to her classroom. As we walked in she proudly exclaimed to her 28 classmates and teacher, “Everybody, this is my Grandma Jojo and my Grandpa Mike.”

Grandpa Mike

Grandpa Mike fitting in.

This was my first experience with a Waldorf School and it was impressive. The kids were very well-spoken, well-behaved, thoughtful, and allowed to climb trees.

A few more highlights. Alec’s outfit, getting warmly squeezed by Alec’s kindergarten teacher,  touring the school’s farm and garden, watching the kids perform a maypole dance and finally, seeing how happy Parker was to have us there made getting up at 5:30am and driving two+ hours more than worth it. Seeing little girls flock around Mike during recess made it well worth it, too.


Alec’s new daily fashion statement: Tucking his pants into knee socks.


Kids in Trees.

Happiest Birthday Girl!

Happiest Birthday Girl!

I made the boyfriend’s blog!

My boyfriend has a blog, too! It’s called Pair-Ranting. He and he and his friend Amanda teamed up a few years ago and take turns posting. His reason was to have a record of all the stuff happening in his kids’ lives as they were growing up. It’s waaaaay more popular than my blog. He and Amanda are both very funny and entertaining.

It’s interesting that my very first awareness of Mike was Mr. Healdsburg his blog. It just so happened that an AMAZING event occurred in his life and he blogged about it. Back then, we had a few mutual friends on Facebook who shared it because it really was worthy of sharing. I remember reading it and thinking that guy was pure awesome. Now I live with that guy! Life is so strange.

Anyway, if you were to read his blog, you would see that it very much covers all the goings on of his life with the boys and since this past year has brought a lot of changes, he has very carefully and with sensitivity introduced me into it with a few mentions. Also, the kids are the real focus of the blog, but of course I play a part in their lives too so I get a little excited when he talks about me.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I saw that his blog included a picture of me! Whoa! I know, you probably wouldn’t even notice me if I didn’t put this big red circle around my head, and never mind that I have posted a picture or two of him on my blog looking all hunky and hot, but hey, there I am. I’ll take it, even if the context of the photo was me telling the boys not to play with the window that will chop off their fingers, and I shamelessly photobombed.





Grant Street

I don’t know where the days went. I’m so behind on the 40 Days of Writing project that I am just going to have to wrap it all up here. I think it’s day 40. Or maybe yesterday was Day 40?

The past two weeks have been a giant blur of packing, cleaning, moving, and manual labor. I am physically exhausted and living in house full of boxes. I got up at 4am on Monday morning and put the second coat of paint on the bathroom walls. I couldn’t sleep thinking of so much I still have left to do. Mike found me on a ladder in a pink babydoll and old sneakers. I wouldn’t let him take my picture.

I have no idea where anything is. Last night I hunted for a bar of soap for 15 minutes. I opened the linen closet three times before Mike opened it a fourth time and discovered the soap. He kindly said, “A fresh pair of eyes were needed.”  Because I’m saving my vacation days for a real vacation, there has been no time to unpack and get settled because I have to go to work every day. I manage to do a little bit each evening, but not enough to make a real dent because up until last night, there was still stuff to do at our old places when we got off work.

For the two people who read my blog that don’t know me personally, I moved out of my own place, as did my boyfriend, and we moved into a house together. In tow with him are two little boys, ages 4 (Liam) and 2 (Finn), who will be with us 50% of the time.

The big move was this past weekend and with the boys returning to us Sunday night, the first order of business was to get their new bunk beds set up. Success! They loved their new room and slept through the night. Liam took the top bunk and Finn took the bottom, which is the way we thought it should go, but last night (they were with Mom on Monday and Tuesday nights) they switched places. We have no idea why. There wasn’t even any sort of argument between them about who gets which bed so apparently they had a lengthy discussion without us knowing.

Food is a problem. We’ve only shopped for essentials, meaning food for the boys and for the cat. I’ve managed to eat a pretty good lunch at work each day, but dinner is another matter. On Monday night, Mike and I were both at our old places. I ate a dill pickle right before I put the jar in a box and I think Mike managed a slice of bread with peanut butter. On Tuesday I had chocolate and wine for dinner. I don’t know what he ate. Oh, wait. I remember. A $3 burrito from somewhere. Last night Mike went with Sarah in her truck to move the very last of his things from his apartment. Before he left, he fixed the boys a spinach and cheese quesadilla. I said to Liam, “you aren’t going to eat all three of those, are you?” He’s a good sharer.

Sex is a problem, too. Wait. Sex is not a problem. Having sex has been a problem. It’s been a week! No, eight days! Or is it nine? Who’s counting?! Mike’s counting. We aren’t worried, that’s for sure. We are just too damn tired. We tried last night. We even got the boys to sleep at a reasonable hour, but then we fell asleep mid-kiss. Tonight! No kids! No previous dwellings to finish! Yeah, tonight! Maybe.

I feel like I look like hell, though. I look tired. When I was getting into bed on Tuesday night, Mike told me I was beautiful. I rolled my eyes. I always try to take a compliment, but I wasn’t feeling very beautiful. I haven’t spent much time on me. I managed to clip my fingernails that night because they drive me nuts when they are too long, but there is still paint underneath them. My hair needs a good conditioning and a cut. The ends are starting to resemble a Brillo pad. I put my hair in a french braid this morning to hide the frizz. French braids make me feel Mormon (no offense). I even said, “keep sweet,” to a co-worker.

Ah well, I’m tired, but happy. Mike is happy, the boys are happy, and Maeby is happy. We will find a place for everything soon enough. Just like these little guys did in our bathtub.




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