DESERT DAYS AND PENNIES FROM HEAVEN:

 I started this post while sitting in the coziest corner in the cutest desert cabin in Joshua Tree, CA.  My daughter and I came for a long weekend, my Mothers Day present.  We stay at a different Air B&B each time we go to get ideas for the one we're building.  Still in the planning stages, it's current status is 2 acres of tumbleweeds and one lovely Joshua tree.  This was a dream of my husband's, to build vacation home/Air B&B. Onward we go!

When we arrived, (my daughter drove the second half of the trip), I got out of the passenger side and was immediately standing in front of this heart made of rocks.  This was something Mike and I would do.  We collected rocks everywhere we went and often made hearts with them around the house.  In fact this one looks exactly like the one we made for our save the date card to our wedding.  What a welcome!   Life is full of signs.  All you have to do is pay attention.  The purple sky was a bonus.  I like to think he painted it for me. 

That's my new Jeep.  I got it on April 30th.  April was the 2nd anniversary of Mikes death and our wedding anniversary month, so all and all not a great month emotionally, so I did a thing and traded in my little car for this pretty, plug in hybrid fun mobile!  I was hit with a tad of agism at the dealer.  The salesman loved the idea the jeep was for me, but when the finance manager came over he assumed it was for my daughter.  When I told him it was for me he looked like a deer in headlights.  I messed with him about jumping to the conclusion that a "woman of a certain age" wouldn't want a fun adventure vehicle.  I guarantee he'll never make that mistake again. HAHA

It was hard saying goodbye to my car.  It was hard when I sold Mike's car last year, but this was harder. This felt like I was abandoning a family member.  When Mike got sick I had to drive everywhere so he was always in that passenger seat and I felt like his DNA had permeated the seats.  It took me a few days not to be sad about it.  Happy for my new Jeep, Lady Wrangler, I love her, but very sad to say goodbye to Lady Coco. Yes, I name my cars.

A lot of people don't understand being both happy and sad at the same time, and living life while grieving.   My grief is always with me.  You can fill your time with work, projects, friends, hobbies, travel, etc.  And be as busy as you can be.  But guess what?  Grief will wait.  It will wait until you stop for lunch, it will wait until you get into bed at night, it will wait for you to be alone in the car or the shower.  It will just wait.  And you have to greet it, let it visit, and let it be.  When your partner dies there is a hole in you life and no matter how many wonderful things you try to fill it with there will always be a hole.  Maybe it's just supposed to be that way so that you always have space for them, in the hole, to store all the love and the memories. 

Grief is like an old friend now.  You know, the annoying kind that you can't get rid of even though you'd like to.  So if you asked me how I'm doing I may tell you I'm doing great, but my husband's still dead. 

Have you ever been to a place that is completely silent?  That's the desert.  Joshua Tree is all about the silence, the sunrises, sunsets, and the zillion stars that fill the night sky.  It's so quiet here.  The absolute best place to relax, there's something so magical about it.  At home my backyard is filled with vibrant color and the songs of so many birds and I can sit out there for hours.  In contrast this is the opposite.  I love both these worlds.  

Here are a few pictures from my few days of zen...

We both love to cook when we're here, simple but yummy.  The first picture is spaghetti with olive oil, lemon and parmesan.  Salad with lettuce from my garden, pine nuts, feta and an amazing peach balsamic from Ojai.  Second picture, creamy spinach artichoke dip in the making.  Bottom left, my high protein Mediterranean crunchy chick peas.  I'll share the recipe in my next post, it's so, so good!  And it wouldn't be us without a classic weekend tuna melt.
We tend to stick to this vibe, I guess you'd call it cowboy chic.
Sill life, blank canvas, and Penelope and Stella making themselves at home.
On Mother's Day, another sign.  I went out in the morning to take another picture of the heart rocks and right in the middle at the top was a penny.  Whenever I see a Penny at my feet I call them pennies from heaven.  You see my mothers name was Penny and I had just been thinking of her.  Watch for signs! :)


Wishing you a beautiful May!





HAPPY GALENTINES DAY!

Happy Galantines Day to all my Galantines out there, and that means you!

I'm excited to gift you the 2nd Edition of MY TOP 10 TIPS & TRICKS FOR AGELESS LIVING.  Just click the link. It's free!

This is my second Valentine's Day since my husband died.  So how's that going? 🙄

I got to thinking lately, when someone dies, where does the love go?  Well, for one thing, it doesn't go with your loved one, it stays with you.  That's the good part.  All the love from both of you stays right in your (broken) heart where it belongs and it's up to you how you choose to honor it.  I choose gratitude because the truth is that had I known how it would have ended, had I known that My Mike would only live to be 62, I would have married him anyway.  And I'd do it again and again for a thousand life times.  And that's life isn't it?  Choose the happy and hang on while it lasts and then be grateful that it found it's way to you.     

When Mike & I were dating and we had our first Valentines together he told me that he thought it was a dumb Hallmark Holiday.  Something to the effect that he loved me everyday so what's the big deal.  And why should he spend $50 on a box of candy that the next day he could get for half off?  Now, Mike was a very generous guy, not cheap at all, so this wasn't about money, he just didn't get it.  In his defense he was a 40 year old bachelor when I met him, so I chalked it up to lack of experience.  And even if I agreed that it was a Hallmark Holiday attention must be paid!  I mean come on, red hearts are involved!  So we went on to celebrate Valentines Day over the years and a new tradition was born.  Every year on February 15th Mike would come home loaded up with the biggest box of Valentines candy he could find and arms full of silly little love trinkets and proudly declare, like a giant goof ball, that he got them all for 50% off. LOL


broken-sad-hearts-with-tears-cracks-aid-bandages-and-stitches-heart



Good-Bye 2023...

It's been a while since I signed into my blog and when I did today, a draft came up.  It was to be a post of my NY trip this past September.  I didn't even realize I hadn't finished it, let alone post it.  They call it widow brain.  Boy I hate that word.  And how did it all of a sudden become New Years weekend?!  EKKK.

Here is an excerpt from that post, kind of a segue into todays post...

"It was early March 2020 and I was in NY to celebrate my friend of 40 years turning 60.  She had a party, it was pre-covid, barely.  Shortly after, when we were safe back home in LA, two friends that were at the party ended up in the hospital and my friends cousin died.  My husbands early onset dementia kicked into high gear at warp speed and the entire world shut down.  And my personal world would surely never be the same.

And here we are, September 2023, my first trip back for the wedding of that same girlfriends son and to reconnect with my roots and beloved old friends.  I love NY and I will always be a native NY'er, but I also love California with all my heart and it's been my home for 34 years.  I feel at home in both places, and there are other places in the world I feel at home in too, where I have never even lived.  That's the beauty of wander lust.  Turns out home really is where the heart is".  That was as far as I got...

As it turns out, home can also be discombobulated, wherever you are, when grief has become a part of your life.  People ask me how my year has been.  I say it's actually been pretty good, I had a lot of fun, even made some new girlfriends which is a blessing in midlife right?  But I also say, my husbands still dead.  Silence.  No one knows how to deal with me.  And that's grief.  People are uncomfortable with it. They either never mentioned it or try to console you in some way.  But there is no way.  It's a very personal and lonely journey.  And it is always with you even on the great days.  I often describe grief as  floating in the ocean. You're weightless, the sun is shining on your face, and you feel good.  Then, without warning, the current pulls you under, (cue the Jaws music).  Now you're gasping for air, trying to fight your way back to the surface.  And you make it, you always make it, and you struggle to get your breath back, and you do, and you float again.  This scenario goes on all the time, on and off like a light switch.  But on my fantastic NY trip in September with family and friends, I'm happy to report I made it a few days in a row without going under. 

I also made multiple visits to my favorite places this year like Ojai, San Fransisco, Joshua Tree, and Arizona.  I thought I'd take my first solo trip to Europe but the state of the world has me feeling safer closer to home.

I belong to an online widows group, it's very sad.  Sometimes I can't even read the posts, sometimes I chime in.  The women have all kinds of stories of how their spouses died and I won't share them because they are all horrible, but what I've learned from the group is that I find it tragic that some of them feel they can't go on.  And I ask them to consider - how would your loved one feel if they knew that their legacy was that their death destroyed your life?  I know what my husband would say.  Hell No!  I'm not going to tell you it's easy, it is not.  I cry at least once a day.  But when I cry I always hear Mike say something funny and I laugh and then just like that, I'm back on the surface floating again.  It's quite the roller coaster.  But I'm on a mission to live an extraordinary life, for the both of us.  

Most people think that grief gets better with time.  It changes, but I'd never use the word better to ever describe grief.  As I step into this new year, and the 2nd New Years without my husband, I have to say that the passage of more time actually makes it sadder, but I look forward to the ways I can move forward with my life while honoring his. 

I always pick a word and a theme for the year.  On my recent year end girls trip I choose my word, 'thrive'. My friend said she thought my word should be fierce, because she thinks I'm fierce, which made me laugh.  So maybe I'll have two words for 2024.  I'll be Fierce and Thriving. 

I don't think I'll ever finish that NY post.  But that's OK, I have another NY wedding on tap for 2024!  And I like looking forward instead of backwards, after all, if you drive looking in your rear view, you'll crash. 😉

With grace and gratitude, I wish you and yours a Fierce and Thriving 2024. 

Happy New Year!







SAN FRANCISCO, ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA

A few months ago I escaped to San Fransisco for a few days of fun with my step mom-in-law.  We had such a great time being tourists in San Fransisco.  Although I have been to SF more times then I can count, I never get tired of the touristy stuff this city has to offer. 

Hard to believe that I've been a "widow" now for 16 months.  I hate that word.  I love road trips and the time I spend with Mike's step mom is very healing since she lost her husband, Mike's dad, my father-in- law, when she was my age.  At the time I thought I knew how she felt but turns out I had no idea.  The truth is you don't know, until you know.  When we're together we get to talk about them unconditionally, with laughter and/or tears, and it's so good.  When you lose your spouse, talking about them keeps their memory alive, it's very cathartic.  I love talking about Mike.  But most people, even close friends, often avoid the subject like the plague.  People think that if they mention your deceased loved ones name that it will remind you they died. Trust me, we haven't forgotten they died. 

One of the nice things about this trip was that we were not on any particular time schedule.  That made for a nice scenic drive with lots of potty breaks, Starbucks stops and an impromptu lunch in Gilroy, the garlic capital of CA.  We stayed at Hotel Rue at Fishermans Wharf.  I have never actually stayed at the wharf before but my favorite boutique hotel, sadly, went out of business during covid.  It turned out to be a great location for us.  There are a few different parts of Fishermans Wharf.  Pier 39 is the touristy part, which is really fun, and the old ferry building and the Embarcadero are more upscale.  And of course Ghiridelli Square, famous for Ghiladeli chocolate.

Our first stop was Boudin for their famous clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls.  They are the original sour dough makers and have been baking on that site since 1849!  The first time I came to SF I was 22 and had never even heard of sour dough bread.  I sent the bread basket back twice and told the waiter there was something wrong with it because it tasted sour.  After the second time he asked me if I knew it was sour dough bread.  I was a native NY'er what did I know from sour dough.  Back then it wasn't a thing.  It was pretty funny, the waiter had a field day with me, calling the rest of the staff over to meet the NY'er that never heard of sour dough bread.

Our first morning, after a great breakfast, we headed off to Pacific Heights, my favorite neighborhood.  Why not, it's just about the most expensive real estate in CA with amazing views of the bay, gorgeous homes and lots of very steep hills to climb.  I always use the address for the Lyon Street stairs to get there. I'll share all the addresses and links below.  There was a house under construction and the constructor saw us gawking and started talking to us about the living wall installation of plants and lighting he had just installed for a zillion dollars.  It was gorgeous and fun to get the inside scoop.  

Then we were off to the Presidio, the Presidio is a former military base that has been tunred into a National Park.  Below the Presidio, is Crissy Field where all the locals go to jog, ride bikes, and socialize and all the tourists go for the best spot to take pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge.  We stopped in at the Warming Hut for hot chocolate and biscotti.  It was unseasonably cold and windy for June.

Next stop, only about 10 minutes away, was Lombard Street.  This is also in a great neighborhood and if you've ever been to SF I'm sure you know Lombard Street.  It's known for being the crookedest street in the world.  What intrigues me about it is that people live on it.  I never get tired of being a tourist on this street.  I've walked it a ton of times with my husband and my daughter.  But this time I drove it.  It was early morning on a Wednesday and not crowded at all.  It was so much fun to drive that when we got to the bottom we went around the block and did it again.  Then we decided to catch the ferry to Saucalito for lunch.  Saucalito is an artsy town of 7,000 people and is referred to as the Meditereanin of the west.  We ate at Barrel House Tavern and had a gorgeous view of the bay.  And according to my my MIL the best ginger margarita this side of Mexico.

We shopped the boutiques and would have stayed longer but it was so windy and cold we decide to catch the 4:00 ferry back.  The ferry is located at Pier 39 and from there we walked back to our hotel to add another layer and then we walked to the hub of the cable car station at Hyde and Powell to take us to Chinatown.  It was June and people were wearing puffer jackets. The last time I took the cablecar in SF was with Mike probably 10 years ago.  He was hanging off the side singing the Rice-a-Ronie song giving me a heart attack.  

It was a full house on the cable car and we sat in the back with the woman who controlled the back break.  Those hills are so steep it requires two people and two sets of breaks, one up front and one in the back.  This woman break operator happened to be a comedian.  She was telling us stories of the stupid questions tourists ask her and she was hilarious.  It was loud and friendly, we took pictures, and it was just one of those lucky things that the cable car turned out to be an extra source of entertainment. 

When we got off we walked a bit into China Town and got on line (there's always a line) at The House of Nanking.  It's the best place to eat in China town.  It's pretty famous and they don't take reservations unless you're a large party so we waited and as always it was worth it.  After dinner we had to walk back to the trolley stop, up hill all the way.  I was a little leary as it was getting dark and the streets were noticeably emptier compared to when we arrived. But we did it, and we made it back to the hotel safely. All in all we walked 8 miles that day!

The next morning we headed off to Golden Gate Park.  It's big, as a point of reference it's 1,013 acres, Central Park is 842 acres. You could spend a week in the park and still not see everything.  Our first stop was The Conservatory of Flowers.  We both love gardening so this was something we were looking forward to.  I've never seen so many rare and unusual plants.  Next we walked to the de Young Museum to take in a 360 degree view of SF from the 12th floor observation desk, spectacular.  Then off to the Japanese Tea garden.  I love this place.  I got tapped on the shoulder by a woman who said "how was your Chinese dinner"?  It was the two women visiting from Canada who had sat across from us on the cable car! 

The Conservatory of Flowers where Scarlet, the famous Corpse Flower, was about to bloom / The view from the observation deck at the de Young Museum, 12th floor, you can get up there for free even if you are not touring the museum / Another view with the Golden Gate peeking out / One of the beauties in the Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park
More sites at the tea garden

House of Nanking, a favorite in China Town, you must try their house special Sesame Chicken and the Sizzling Rice Soup, and the tea ball that opens into a flower in your cup! We took a cable car to China Town / Shots of the bridge from the ferry to Sausalito / Sausalito / Homes and Heart in Pacific Heights at the Lyon Street stairs. There are 131 hearts around SF by local artists, a project that started n 2004.

Palace of Fine Arts / Drinks and lunch at Barrel House Tavern in Sausalito / Ghirardelli Square for my fellow chocolate lovers / The original Section of Fishermans Warf / Merry Go Round at Pier 39 

Clam chowder bread bowls at Boudin first thing, it's the original sour dough bread factory baking since 1849 / A place to contemplate inside the Conservatory of Flowers / The old Brick buildings of Canary Row / the view from Lombard Street / Cable Car Depot

I'm kind of obsessed with taking pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, every time, over and over / cable car stop at the top of Lombard St. / Hills and steps everywhere / gorgeous architecture

The Presidio is part of Golden Gate Park and Crissy Field in a great area under the bridge where you'll find lots of locals jogging, biking, walking and lots of activities / The Warming Hut if it's cold this is a stop for hot chocolate / Pacific Heights / House of Nanking

If you're interested in more SF check out our San Fransisco family Christmas with other sights and restaurants I recommend.  Find it here