Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Happy Birthday, Lurene

As Cam mentioned, we made it home from our weekend with the Maddux clan in Maryland. Many wonderful experiences were shared. Cam captured this one on video.

Jim asked me what I did with all of the pictures we take. (I just uploaded 499. Some awesome. Some awful.) We will treasure them and cherish the memories they help preserve.

Everyone in our household headed back to school and work today but much rest and recuperation still needs to be had. When we are able, we will share our photos with you.

Thanks to Mary Lu for all of her hard work, planning and hospitality. Thanks to Jim & Liz for helping us be able to be part of it all. I hope everyone who was traveling had a safe trip home. We enjoyed our time with you.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I hope I look this good when I turn 90.

Unfortunately, the only way I can access this lovely photo of Cameron, Sam, Cam's Aunt Mary Lu and his Grandmother Lurene at Eric & Sarah's wedding is through Yahoo Photos. At least, I can access it. I should be thankful. But they converted it to low res and I don't know how to make it bigger again.

"Why am I posting it now?" you may ask. I want to wish Lurene a happy 90th birthday and let you know that we are looking forward to traveling to Solomons, Maryland, to celebrate the occasion with her this coming weekend.

Also, I recently found these childhood photos of my brother and me in DC. Again, the quality isn't there but we appear to be standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with the Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument in the background. Pictures like these are great for reminding us, we were there.

Initially, Cam and I had talked about trying to build a trip to our nation's capitol into this visit but it doesn't look like it is in the cards.

My right side didn't make this picture of us in front of the White House but it does capture my brother in his "Yes" shirt.

You may remember me sharing my memories about a homeless person yelling "No," at my sweet brother on this trip. Now you have an accompanying visual.

Hopefully, we'll have many new pictures to share with you upon our return from the east coast.

My Mom can Play

My mom knows how to play.

She watched Sam from the time he was seven weeks old (when I went back to work) until the time we moved to St. Louis, shortly after he turned three.

We lived with my folks for most of the first two years of Sam's life. So, even after I'd returned home, my mom was there to play with him on nights and weekends. They are close.

When we have lived away from her, she has always visited regularly and made it possible for us to come see her. I appreciate my mom for the time she has spent with me and my son and the love and caring she showers on everyone. Thanks for coming to see us, Mom.

P.S. If you haven't seen the video of Sam knocking down the Jenga wall they built with his RoboRaptor, check it out.

"There's something good, waiting down this road..."

I was honored when my Uncle Patrick called and said he wanted to come to the Bay Area for a visit. Because he has work very hard for decades, Pat was recently offered the chance to stop working and still receive good pay.

In the future, he may embark on a second career. In the meantime, he is in a loving relationship and plans to use his free time to visit family. I'm so glad he went out of his way to come spend time with us.

On his last evening here, we enjoyed listening to music while visiting. Patrick introduced us to Paulina Rubio, one of his favorite artists. We discovered our mutual appreciation for James Taylor (who my Uncle Jerry introduced me to) and John Denver. We also had fun singing along with Tom Petty in the car.

I learned my uncle is a romantic dreamer, like me. Maybe it's in the genes?

Best of luck, Patrick while you are, "Running Down a Dream."

Monday, May 21, 2007

Back to Bolinas - Agate Beach Tidepools

Sam and I first discovered Bolinas in April of 2002. We'd driven cross country in search of a way to make a life in the west.

Our first stop was Muir Beach. A ranger there told us about Bolinas. He said the people who live in Bolinas want so much to keep the place off the beaten path that they tear down the road signs that would direct tourists here.

He told me how to find it though and we were happy that we did.

When I was a little girl, visiting California with my parents, I remember my mom taking me to see tide pools.

When she visited us last April, I wanted to take her to see some.

So, we headed back to Bolinas and the tide pools at Agate Beach.

The wind off the ocean was strong and brisk. My mom borrowed one of Cam's sweat shirts.

We saw orange starfish.

And purple ones.

There were lots of periwinkle snails, acorn barnacles, hermit crabs and sea anemones.

The purple sea urchin was vibrant.

I hope never to step on one.

We saw these things that looked like fossils, remnants of some prehistoric creatures that lived there long ago?

Then, we spotted this living creature and thought maybe those fossils weren't so ancient.

Mom and Sam examined one up close. Based on the sign near the parking lot, we think these creatures were mossy chiton. They looked a bit like a snail on the underside.

After exploring the tide pools, we climbed a small trail to an overlook. The wind kept us from hanging around too long.

We were getting a bit hungry so we decided to drive into Bolinas to see if we could find a bit to eat.

I remembered having pictures of Sam standing in front of this flower box. I asked him to stand there again so we would have a then and now.

We didn't find anyplace we wanted to eat so we headed back up Hwy 1 and pulled off at Stinson Beach.

The Parkside Cafe was closed but their snack bar was open.

I'm happy we were able to share these places and experiences with my mom that day.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Less skritch, skritch. More lick, lick.

I will not venture to say we have won the battle of the fleas but there is much smiling and rejoicing in our home the past 24 hours.

Saturday, Sam and I went to a local vet's office and picked up Advantage, (imidacloprid) a once-a-month topical flea treatment.

We've used this kind of thing before. I think I was first introduced to it by a vet in Iowa. But in recent years, we've skimped and bought a knock-off brand from Target or the grocery store. Those seemed to be reasonably effective but just weren't cutting it this time.

Who knew there was a difference? This one said it should work w/in 12 hours. We gave it to the cats Saturday evening and Sunday morning, when Cam called before boarding his flight home, I told him it was eerie, they didn't seem to be going skritch, skritch. He said, Happy Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day indeed.

Despite running a fever on Saturday and Sunday, Sam was a huge help during the weekend of the vacuum. (Cam was happier when he realized I saved $150 off the normal price.)

We pulled furniture out from walls and cleaned under beds. We vacuumed his futon, we emptied out closets and rearranged. We dumped cat hair and dirt out the vacuum funnel three times. Laundry is waiting for me in the car, I plan to washing the bedding and bath mats again.

We haven't used any of the new spray I bought yet and are hoping to avoid using more poison.

The work continues but the rooms that are done are so much better. I may not have to flee after all. At least I don't feel disgusted sitting on the carpet anymore. Thanks for all your support and encouragement.

I decided to stay home with Sam today to let him rest and keep any germs he's still fighting away from the other kids at school. The cats were snuggly and affectionate this morning, giving each other kisses and baths.

Less tension, less stress, we're making progress.

April Mini-Reunion

My Uncle Patrick decided to come to California for Spring Break. He and my mom were here at the same time so we had a bit of a full house but lots of fun.

After I picked him up at the airport, we met Ariel and Ash in the city. They showed us their new place and took us to lunch at a way-cool diner. I had a vegetarian Reuben.

We walked around the Mission district a bit. There, my uncle picked up some SF t-shirts for his family back home.

We drove past the Giant's stadium and heard Patrick's first-hand account of the '89 quake. He told us my uncle Mike had been at the World Series game during it. We drove up the Embarcadero past the Piers. It was a gorgeous day.

Someone said it would be a nice day to sit out on a patio and drink marga-
ritas. I offered our patio.

At my place, I also had an awesome blender (purchased with the William's Sonoma gift certificate Jim & Liz gave us for Christmas in '05) and some margarita mix made with natural ingredients. We picked up some Pina Colada mix too and were ready to party.

We joined up with my mom and Sam, who were back at the house, for a rousing game of Skip-Bo.

Our back patio is long but narrow. There wasn't much room on either side of the table to get by.

Ash improvised and took the high road. She hopped onto the deck railing and high-beamed along it, past us, back and forth to the house.

After the card game, Sam and Ash had a blast sword fighting. Ash is really great with kids. Sam loves playing with her.

The next day, we took it easy. It was a rainy day so we figured it was a good day for indoor activities. I bought groceries, made breakfast and threw dinner in the crock pot.

Sam had wanted to see The Last Mimzy, a movie about some kids who develop super natural powers and save the world.

Mom and Uncle Pat were willing to see it with us. Ariel and Ash opted to lay low and say in the city. Sam liked the movie but I wouldn't recommend it. Mimzy creeped me out.

After the movie, we went to the electronics store. Uncle Pat helped Sam think about his design and find the final part he needed for his motorized project.

He was really excited about it and wanted to take it with him to The Planet, where they'd been helping him work on it, to finish it.

Later, Cam picked Sam up from the Planet. Then we enjoyed BBQ pork, coleslaw, baked beans and potato salad for dinner.

I made the BBQ Pork Sundae sans pork. I'd also cooked up the veggies that I'd normally put into the crock pot with a pork roast (potatoes, onion, mushrooms, carrots) separately so I could eat them too.

The next day, we were supposed to have good weather again. I wanted to take my mom tide pooling. I remember her taking me when I was growing up. And it is one of the things you can do here that you can't do in Arkansas.

Ariel, Ash and Uncle Patrick decided they'd rather explore the city together. So, we met them at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Low tide was at 1pm. The middle of the day allowed us to take our time getting up and around. I'd already had time to do seven loads of laundry. Uncle Pat offered kindly to keep me company at my favorite local hang-out, the laundry mat.

But the middle of the day wasn't the best time for taking pictures. And since we weren't parked legally, we didn't dare leave the parking lot for a better angle.

Everyone enjoyed their respective activities that afternoon and my uncle took the ferry back across the bay that evening. (photo credit)

We had burgers for dinner. Some were sirloin but I had a turkey one with mushrooms, Swiss and A-1 sauce.

Good times.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

When we'd seen my folks and my brother in February, we talked about getting together next during the summer.

Then, one time when I talked with my mom in March, she said she didn't want to wait until summer to see us again.

She invited us to come visit her in Arkansas over our Spring Break.

I wanted to but we were not ready to travel again after being gone over Christmas break and in February.

My Uncle Patrick had said he might come to visit us over Spring Break but since I wasn't sure if he was coming or not, I told my mom she was welcome to come here if she wanted to.

The next thing I knew, my dad was calling issuing warnings, "Look out, here she comes." He had obligations at home but went ahead and bought a ticket for my mom to come out for a few days.

We had lots of fun during her visit.

really appreciated her doing the traveling so we could relax and rest at the beginning and the end of our break.

I will write about our time with her later.

These pictures are from her last morning here. We walked through the Richardson Bay Audubon Center near our home.

Thanks mom for all you do and all you have done.

Today, I am especially appreciative of you allowing us to have messy pets, cleaning up after them, vacuuming and fighting fleas.

As you know, I sat with a sick child, next to a toilet, last night. Thank you for cleaning up after us when we were sick and buying ice cream for us at the drug store after our doctor's appointments. Thanks for letting us stay home when we didn't feel well and taking care of us until we were better.

And thanks to all of the moms who are loving influences in my life.

Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Invasion/I'd rather be...

Cam left Tuesday w/o plans to return home until Sunday afternoon. If his travel was purely work-related, I would be bummed out about him being gone so long.

But, the first leg of his trip took him to Chicago where he was able to spend a bit of time with Eric, Sarah and the niece and nephew to be.

This week, spent some time writing up ideas about places to go and things to do in Chicago for a man I worked with who is planning a trip there.

It made me nostalgic for a place that still feels like home. With all that reminiscing and thoughts of Cam's family, I started considering returning to our old stomping grounds. The weighing of pros and cons began. The discussion continues...

After leaving Chicago, Cam traveled to Atlanta. His work there was done sometime yesterday. Last night and today, he is spending time with Anthony, Jeanette and Lucas Cameron, who live in the area. I'm happy he has been able to have time with people close to him.

When Cam told me about his chance to travel and have time with family and friends, I thought maybe Sam and I would use the time to travel and visit someone we care about as well.

My friend, Melissa (pictured at right) is back in Southern California. She's been performing at a dinner theater there. I thought maybe we'd leave on Friday and head south to spend some time with her and watch her show before she heads back to Chicago, later this month.

But last Friday night, I was so tired from the work week that I went to bed before 9pm. Last Saturday morning, I wondered how realistic it was to think I would be able to drive 6 hours on a Friday evening. I didn't want to end up turning around again.

I really wanted to see my friend. So, I tried to come up with things that might make the drive more enjoyable. What if I drove along the ocean on Hwy 1? I knew it would be slower going but definitely more scenic. I thought about Big Sur and how it was a half-way point along the coast.

What if we only drove three hours on Friday night then camped at Big Sur?

We could get up early and drive the remaining three hours Saturday morning and still have time to hang out for awhile before her show. We could leave early Sunday and take our time driving back home.

But the math was daunting. Twelve hours of driving for maybe 12 hours of hanging out? Probably more like 7 hours of hanging out. I wanted to and I didn't want to at the same time. More weighing of pros and cons. More deliberation.

On top of it all, I am nearly at my wits end over our current flea infestation.

haven't wanted to talk about it because it is embarrassing and the fleas are currently winning.

I'd rather beat it then talk about our triumph.

Our beloved cats have always been allowed to go outdoors. Never before living in California have fleas been a problem. So, while we rave about how much we love the moderate temperatures here, I'm learning that they come with a downside too.

They didn't seem to be a problem when my family visited in mid-April for spring break. But sometime since then, they've cropped up. We've treated the cats twice but the fleas have taken up residence in our home. A couple of weeks ago, I was so tired of Sam saying, I found another flea, that I bought a box of three bug bombs. Then, on a day I was scheduled to work a half-day in the afternoon, I spent the morning doing my best to prepare my home to be filled with poisonous gases. I was incredibly upset about the idea but wasn't sure what else to do. I was desperate.

I set them off and was about to bolt from the house. The vapor started pouring out of the first canister and the smoke detectors started going off. Somehow, I'd missed the part of the directions that said to disable them ahead of time. I quickly pulled a battery out of the closest one but could still hear beeps coming from both directions. I ran out the door and split.

Of course, it was now time for me to head to work. A class full of middle school students somewhere was waiting for me. So, I didn't have time to deal with the chaos I'd just created. I had visions of my neighbors calling the fire department and returning home to find angry landlords and maintenance people waiting.

I called our upstairs neighbors to apologize and let them know there wasn't a fire. Thankfully, they couldn't hear anything. That afternoon, when I came home, the smoke alarms were no longer screaming but there was still a foggy haze in our bedroom. Nice. I opened all of the windows and went to go get Sam.

We met Ariel and Ash at a park and hung out for awhile before meeting Cam for dinner at Joe's.

After dinner, the haze was gone and no one else seemed to think the place was still noxious. I guess the bug bomb doesn't leave a bad smell but even though I can't smell anything, I have always been able to taste bug spray. I could taste it for days.

The fleas were back (if they ever left) before the taste was out of my mouth. I was so frustrated and discouraged.

I started reading up. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about fleas, flea eggs, flea poop, etc. The gist of most of my reading is that getting rid of fleas is extremely difficult.

I started thinking about getting rid of the cats. Cameron and Sam aren't willing to go that far and I'm not sure I'm there yet either.

So, instead of burning all of our things and running off for Chicago or escaping to Big Sur, I decided to stay home and face them.

Yesterday morning, I talked with Cam about how upset I am about them. One of the main things I read about getting rid of fleas is that frequent vacuuming is essential. The vacuum we have is 14 years old and wasn't even picking up cat hair.

I researched vacuums and read good things about one in particular. When I asked Cam how much he thought was reasonable to spend on a vacuum, he said, whatever I thought was best. Then, last night, he called as I was about to buy one and said, "We're spending how much on a vacuum?"

I went ahead and armed myself with a ridiculously expensive machine. I just called a vet and found out I can buy maximum strength cat treatment w/o an appointment.

I may have lost the battle but the war has just begun.

Cam just called. He said he'd rather we were off doing something fun than working on the house. (We'd talked about going horseback riding here since we weren't able to do it with Melissa.) He said he'd be happy to try to help me deal with the fleas when he returns but that if the current situation was making it so that I couldn't enjoy being around the house he understood and appreciated me trying to take care of it.

In the meantime, here are some places I'd rather be:

Gazing at the gently, running water near Mirror Lake, Yosemite.

More lovely water near Mirror Lake.

Dramatic, crashing water we saw near Illouette Falls at the beginning of our hike to the top of Nevada Falls.

Chasing the rainbow that followed us as we hiked to the top of Vernal Falls.

Witnessing the power of Vernal Falls from the top.

Watching Cam's, Lord of the Rings, Water Horses leap out of Nevada Falls.

Being refreshed by the mist from a waterfall. (In this scene, we are at Lower Yosemite Falls, where earlier we'd seen a moon bow.)

Enjoy whatever you do today and wish us luck.