Happy 100th Birthday, Mommy!

Sometimes, caring for a terminally ill grandma is a beautifully tragic way to learn compassion.

Best mom and grandma EVER.

She was born February 9, 1915
and would have been
one hundred years old today.

I’m often asked where I learned how to cook and bake. I learned it all from her — everything from scratch, and that’s how I do it, too, carrying on that tradition.

Once in a while, tugboat man will surprise his crew by baking for them and it’s her recipe he uses: The Compleat Apple Pie…Deconstructed 

You know how I love to clean? That’s because she made a game out of washing windows, polishing silver; even ironing. She made it all fun, never a chore.

When Angel Boy had his medical scare a while back, it was my mom whom I channeled in the hospital. I remembered every single thing she ever shared with me about being a strong, assertive patient advocate — how to interact with doctors and staff — and to NEVER leave the side of a loved one, which is the reason why DIL and I were there 24/7 for the almost two weeks he was hospitalized.  We all firmly believe this is one of the reasons he’s here today. REALLY.

On a happier note, all I  know about fashion and style, shopping and Chanel, I learned from my mom and I’m more than happy to carry on that legacy.

When I spray on my favorite scent, Chance by Chanel, before I leave for the gym, I remember more of my mom’s words of wisdom:

“Don’t save good perfume for special occasions. Wear it every day just for you.”

When my mom retired from nursing, she moved in with us. After suffering from months of unexplained stomach pain and nausea, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Sadly, she didn’t live very long after that.

We cared for her with the help of hospice and she died peacefully at home.

Toward the end, after school, my seven-year-old son would climb on her bed, tell her about his day and feed her a couple spoonfuls of soup.

Sometimes, caring for a terminally ill grandma is a beautifully tragic way to learn compassion.

Angel Boy and my mom had a special bond; she would play Candyland for HOURS with had endless patience. When he was two or three or four years old, whenever he’d call out “MOM!” we would both answer, because for the longest time, that’s how he referred to us both– until he named her “DangDang”, which is how his brain processed the sounds in “Grandma”.

She would have been so very proud of him.

When Angel Boy finished graduate school, I bought him an Hermes tie because that’s what Grandma would have done — memorialize the occasion with an amazingly extravagant gift.

I can think of no better way to honor her memory than to shop for a little something special, ‘cos that’s exactly what she’d want me to do!

A few of my favorite vintage photos:

Stylish nurse ensemble.
I still have her cap and velvet ribbon tucked away, wrapped in tissue paper. 

MommyRN

Lovely afternoon skirt, blouse, and contrasting belt to highlight her curves.
Mommy

Me (very yellow with frilly socks) with Mommy, attired in a full-on Jackie Kennedy look minus the pillbox hat.meandmommy

Frank Sinatra was one of her FAVES.. She used to annoy me SO much by singing along with Old Blue Eyes whenever this song came on the radio: “It Was A Very Good Year”

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Sad Seashell Sunday

sad seashell faceWithout my tugboat man.

He’s STILL not home — possibly not until the endif October or beginning of November, which means he’ll have been gone nearly two months.

Sheesh. Instead of gone girl, he’s my gone guy.

My yesterday was accident-prone; chock full of injuries.

Alll in separate events, I broke the third toe on my right foot, a toe I’ve broken several times before, sprained my left wrist, the same one I broke last year, cut my left hand, and poked my right arm with the tip of a nasty agave, which feels like being stabbed with a hot knife. 😦

Nothing major and at least it all seems to be balanced —  both sides equally wounded.

So it looks like I’m taking it easy today. Cleaning out drawers, organizing, and listening to Sinatra and Ella.

BTW, I’d like to extend an enthusiastic “HELLO, friends!” to my readers from the far reaches of the globe — I guess you could say the entire universe  –  from Kansas to Sao Paolo to Colchester to Mountain View(!) to Saint-jean-d’angely, Poitou-Charentes, and India, Pakistan, South Africa, Texas, Brazil, Sweden, Australia, tons of you guys from Canadaxoxo, Fiji, Czech Republic, Germany (danke!), Bosnia, Hungary, and Indonesia, just about every state in the United States, along with a special “hollz beeyotches!” to y’all from my home state of Cali.

UPDATE: Chinwags and Tittle-Tattles frowned and shook her perfectly manicured finger at me for failing to give proper mention to my many lovely, tea drinking, special readers from the UK, the United Kingdom, my brilliant British buddies. Now y’all MUST visit her blog and let her know that I’ve righted the unintentional  wrong!

And that’s just today! What a small world, don’t know how I’ll fit y’all in but here goes:

********** Welcome to Casa de Enchanted Seashells *********

Just in case you really didn’t believe me that our home is saturated with seashells, join me on a tour, starting at the foyer.

Come on it! (But take your shoes off first.)

shelldecor2

The mirror took a long time to get exactly right, but it’s one of my best projects.

Now we’re on the first level.

shell decor1

Hmm, pics a bit wonky, I’ll fix ’em right now.

Nothing here but the formal living room that no one ever uses.
Heading up the stairs, seashells lead the way.

I love my DIY Seashell Bouquet, don’t you?

shelldecor3

 The personal princess spa with seashells lining the walls,
because of course.

bathroom1Close up of the one and only princess mermaid bench.
Tugboat man crafted the bench and I embellished.

flowery mermaid bench

OK, that’s enough. I need my privacy, y’all!

Cleaning leads me to thinking about my mom — we loved to clean together, and she LOVED Old Blue Eyes, and even saw him in person when she was a young teen.

If she were alive, she’d be 100 years old in 2015.

She could sing along (just to annoy me) to all of his tunes; before she died, she especially loved “It Was a Very Good Year”

But I loves me some Ella. “A Sunday Kind of Love”

 

Here’s hoping you enjoy a happy and accident-free Sunday.

 

The Great ANT Invasion of 2014

English: Small hand-drawn ant graphic

English: Small hand-drawn ant graphic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a day like any other day.

My tugboat man and I awoke to the caw-caphony of a million restless crows, wishing us either a good morning or something less pleasant from the tops of every eucalyptus tree in Southern California.

I could almost taste that first fragrant sip of coffee as I put on my glasses and pulled open the drapes.

Trader Joe’s French Roast, freshly ground, filtered water — I was salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs (need I interject how much I abhor and detest any kind of animal experimentation?)

Tugboat man opened the patio doors.

“Good morning. It’s gonna be a hot one”, he said.

“That’s what they say”, I replied. And “Good morning to you!”

We are polite like that, we really are! (Well, most some of the time.)

“You’re not gonna like this”, cautioned my tugboat man.

“Uh oh, what’s wrong?”

“The kitchen is covered in ants.”

“On every surface.”

“I know you’re going to go crazy. I better leave now, haha.”

“OH MY GOD!”

“AY DIOS MIO”

This day just turned into the worst day ever.

Can you imagine what a roomful of ants, not only on every surface, countertop, floor, sink, and cupboard DOES to someone like me who is ever-so-slightly OCD?

I didn’t know where to start.

But I knew we needed coffee before anything was going to happen.

However long this cleanup would take, my strategy was to begin where it was most needed — the coffee pot area.

Can you believe there ware ants INSIDE THE GLASS CARAFE?!

Because of our ongoing drought and extreme heat, I guess they were searching for water; quite possibly that’s why the kitchen sink was black with swarming ants.

Or maybe they just decided to choose Casa de Enchanted Seashells for some sort of karmic retribution — for what, I have no idea, as I try to NEVER hurt or maim one of Mother Nature’s creatures.

But this was too much to bear.

I could foresee the hours of my day…purging all of the pots and pans and dishes out of the cupboards and food out of the pantry — cleaning and sterilizing every f***ing thing.

Like soldiers marching on the Rhine, they broke me.

I retreated.

I waved the white flag.

But it was only a strategy designed to divert those little soldiers from their goal of full-scale conquest.

I reached under the sink, surreptitiously pulled out a gigantic canister of ant spray, and with a battle cry reminiscent of Mel Gibson In Braveheart I let loose a vigorous stream of poison with the force of General Leslie GrovesManhattan Project atomic bomb testing in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Princess Rosebud won this round. I’m not proud that I surrendered to the use of toxins to win this war, but I felt I had no choice.

steaming-heart-cupFinally, we enjoyed a well-deserved mug of life-giving, life-sustaining dark, rich, bold coffee.

The spoils of war, my friends.

Mission Accomplished.

P.S. As much as I wanted them GONE, I can’t help but admire their determination. Let’s all sing along with Frank Sinatra in “High Hopes”

SUNDAY UPDATE…BREAKING NEWS…
Mission NOT so accomplished. A terror cell of insurgents split from the main army, invading our bedroom. Coming from the attic, this has nothing to do with being thirsty. This is a military coup. Princess Rosebud is fighting back alone; her tugboat man retreated to the safety of a beach. 


 

Gif source: http://webhost.bridgew.edu/jhayesboh/coffee/steaming-heart-cup.gif

What We Do Is Who We Are. I Think. Well, Maybe.

What We Do Is Who We Are. I Think. Well, Maybe.

Maybe not, ‘cos if that were true, I’d be Eleanor Powell or Ella Fitzgerald and hub’d be Frank Sinatra or Fred Astaire or Sammy D.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Long relationships possess an ebb and flow; that we know.

On any given day, either one of us is the frustrating one to be married to (most often me ha ha). Sometimes we’re on the same path– in sync and cosmically aligned — sometimes we misunderstand cues and hurt feelings ensue.

My tugboat man and I have experienced it all — mostly we’re sailing along on the same course (nautical reference) —  but this past Sunday was a nice and easy day, kind of a quirky series of activities that pretty much defines our relationship in a good way, I think.

After a few days on antibiotics, hub’s up and about, almost recovered from an upper respiratory infection except for a nasty cough that’s stubbornly refusing to disappear.

My recovering invalid requested French toast for breakfast with fruit and yogurt — as much as I throw a certain amount of snark his way, I’m a dedicated caregiver — I learned it all from my RN mom.

Hmm, thought to self: next time he’s sick, I’ll need to remember to wear my mom’s old nurse uniform and that cool hat she wore along with the thick white support stockings and shoes — I love to play dress up. Yes, I never grew up, I know that…

In appreciation for the yummy breakfast, Tugboat Man declared that he would learn to play one of my favorite songs on his ukelele, Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine”.

Kala Concert Ukelele

He brings his Kala Concert Uke when he goes out to sea; it’s the perfect size for traveling.

(BTW, a beguine is a dance.)

That led each of us down a parallel path on You Tube to search for all the different versions we could find.

Sitting side by side on the sofa with our individual laptops, we shared our discoveries, both of us mirroring jaw-hanging-open awe of Eleanor Powell and Fred Astaire dancing in Broadway Melody of 1940:

While this may not seem like an overwhelming good time to everyone, when you’re a mariner’s wife, these simple slices of an everyday life  — things you might take for granted under different circumstances —  become more precious and more poignant — and more appreciated.

(Look at me!  A deep thought! Did you think it wasn’t possible? Did you doubt that I could be more than a one-dimensional shopaholic?)

We both agreed that our all-time favorite was performed by Ella Fitzgerald. I can (and do) listen to her over and over:

But Frank Sinatra’s is awesome, too. Throughout the years of his career, he sang it many different ways, and we listened to them all:

And then there’s Sammy Davis, Jr. He’s amazing:

What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning.

I guess for us today, what we do IS who we are, and the reaffirmation of us; together, enjoying different interpretations of “Begin the Beguine”, eyes closed, side by side, each of us feeling the haunting lyrics and exotic melody.

Sometimes, just being together is enough.

Whose version do you like?

Begin the Beguine

When they begin the beguine
It brings back the sound of music so tender
It brings back a night of tropical splendor
It brings back a memory ever green

I’m with you once more under the stars
And down by the shore an orchestra’s playing
And even the palms seem to be swaying
When they begin the beguine

To live it again is past all endeavor
Except when that tune clutches my heart
And there we are swearing to love forever
And promising never, never to part

What moments divine, what rapture serene
Till clouds came along to disperse the joys we had tasted
And now when I hear people curse the chance that was wasted
I know but too well what they mean

So don’t let them begin the beguine
Let the love that was once a fire remain an ember
Let it sleep like the dead desire I only remember
When they begin the beguine

Oh yes, let them begin the beguine make them play
Till the stars that were there before return above you
Till you whisper to me once more, darling I love you
And we suddenly know what heaven we’re in
When they begin the beguine

When they begin the beguine.

#Ella Fitzgerald, #Frank Sinatra, or #Sammy Davis Jr.

 

Remembering: When I Got Up Close With Peter O’Toole

Peter O'Toole The Stunt ManFor a brief moment in time, I lived my life’s dream of being an actress.

I had an agent.

I even combined my love for writing with my desire to become the next Oscar winner and wrangled a real live Press Pass from the Theater Arts Guild (which I saved all these years and take out to weep on every so often as just another unrealized dream.)

One time, I interviewed Bob Hope and Connie Francis. By the way, funny as you think he was on stage, he was an absolute JERK behind the scenes. At least that’s what I observed as he demanded that his white Rolls Royce be driven underground at the Sports Arena where he was to appear with Connie Francis in a tribute to the military. There was such a small crowd that a near-panic ensued and busloads of Marines drove in to fill up the seats and save the day.

Anyhoo, I get that I was a nobody with a freshly minted press pass, but I did write for a legitimate publication and he didn’t have to be so rude and dismissive. I wrote an honest, authentic, and genuine piece, not a speck of fluff anywhere. I still have the article somewhere along with my press pass. One day I’ll rummage around in my box of broken dreams and post it.

From tiny on-screen moments on the beach in a bathing suit in Harry- O with David Janssen to my last shoot as a Costa Rican hooker in Deadly Desire with Jack Scalia, it seemed as if I had a calling. I even had a few bit parts with lines, although most of them ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor, so there’s nothing to be found on YouTube to document my star’s brief rise and fall.

Upon reflection, I’m not quite sure why I was typecast as a prostitute? Bimbo in a bikini? Oh well, another fantasy died, thanks to an abundance of wrinkles and hundreds of pockets of cellulite. Time marches on, right?

There was a time I had auditioned for a film that was shooting in San Diego, “Stuntman”, starring the great Peter O’Toole.

Stuntman

Me with Alex Rocco.Photo property of Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

There I was, once again, a girl in a bikini, on the beach in La Jolla. (Nice abs, if I do say so myself.)

That’s where I met Peter O’Toole. Because we were right on the beach, it was a fairly egalitarian scene. It was fascinating for me to watch actors as they rehearsed their script outdoors — like Steve Railsback who kept going over his lines; “We’re losing the light, Chuck.” “Chuck, we’re losing the light” “We’re losing the damn light, Chuck!”

Photo courtesy of sandiegohistory.org

Photo courtesy of sandiegohistory.org

And then there was Mr. O’Toole as he was called, pretzeling his tall, extremely skinny body onto his special chair, one leg laconically tossed onto the arm as he half-sat, half-reclined — star power all the way —  and he raised his voice, knowing that he’d command attention in less than two syllables, ” Where’s my coffee?  I want my coffee HOT!” to all of the hovering assistants.

He was so thin that he showed us how he wore layers and layers of clothing — even in the summer — to give his body a little padding. (I heard Frank Sinatra did the same thing.)

I was way too cool to ask for an autograph; I wanted him to think of me as an equal; a fellow “actor”, not as a fawning sycophant.

All of us cute young barely clothed girls had an easy time as desired accessories around the set; we had more access to the celebrities, we watched them play chess or checkers or were even invited to eat lunch with them.

At the time, I thought that I was being singled out for my “specialness” and my acting skills; now I see that there was a darker and more exploitative side to what goes on behind the scenes. Trust me, the casting couch is alive and well in Hollywood.

But for me, it was all innocent, all good, all wholesome. I didn’t get drawn into any of the after-hours partying, didn’t make any bad choices in life or follow a destructive path.

My acting pursuits ended with the birth of the Angel Boy except for an inspiring portrayal of that Costa Rican hooker.

My very last line…”Te gusta, señor?” (“You like, Mister?”)

Act on, Mr. O’Toole. Break a leg. You are remembered and missed.

Princess Rosebud and her tugboat man visit Palm Springs

What a difference a week makes

It’s nearly impossible to fathom that it was only last week that my tugboat man and I went to Palm Springs. He’s been gone for a week today and I’m experiencing “husband cold turkey” with no cell phone reception and only spotty email.

On my own, I have tons of free time but I’m always busy. Today I sent a Valentine’s Day package to son, DIL, and sister wife. After that, I stopped at one of my fave consignment shops and got a few things– nothing designer or vintage–not photo worthy–just a top for the gym, a Free People sweater, and a Tommy Bahama long sleeved Hawaiian shirt. I prolly won’t ever wear it, but at seven dollars, how could I NOT rescue it! The silk’s worth more than that, right?

I worked my way over to the library and got a few of their $1 books ‘cos I’m out of reading material after the “Elegance of the Hedgehog”.  I saw a car catch on fire in the parking lot!! Luckily for the owner, there’s a fire station right across the street. A few of those hunky guys came out, smelled smoke, did a little pointing, saw lots of people waving them over, jumped in their fire engine AND a paramedic’s unit (although no one was injured) and drove right by me as I stood next to my car. YUMMY!

I arrived home to discover that I was missing an earring, probably dropped at the consignment shop. It was an amethyst with a dangly pearl and I was super upset so I got back in my car. It wasn’t in the dressing room or anywhere else in the store but I retraced my steps to where I had parked earlier and there it was!! Thank you, Mother Earth!

As I drove home along the same route for the second time today, I noticed six police cars at the Motel 6 (for a “village” that tries to promote its quaint-ness, Motel 6 kinda messes with that whole marketing campaign). They seemed to be converging on one man and handcuffing him. Excitement!! I was gonna cross the street and film the action, but my merchant mariner’s voice was in my head telling me it wasn’t very smart to get smack up in the middle of something that could get out of control. Dumb captain always in my head!! Sheesh.

The previous week, my last as a married woman…for a while

Palm Springs is about three hours from home, perfect for a day hike. Neither of us had ever been there or taken the tram, and we both love to hike in the snow, so we packed a lunch, gassed up the truck, and embarked on another adventure. We passed this…bearstore

and this…not a real bighorn sheep

and this was our first glimpse of snow on a hazy day.first view of san snow

We drove past the Marilyn Monroe statue but my tugboat man wouldn’t stop long enough for me to take a pic, so I had to Google it.marilynmonroepalmsprings

Before you reach Palm Springs, there’s another little town called Palm Desert with a shopping section that rivals Rodeo Drive.

gucci

I spied a GUCCI storefront out of the corner of my eye and yelled “GUCCI, GUCCI, GOOOOCHHIIIIII!!” My tugboat man’s response wasn’t very nice, “Don’t even think about it. I’m not stopping. I didn’t drive all this way to take you shopping.” Mean man. I shmushed my face up against the window and whimpered wistfully, “Gucci, Gucci, Gucci” in a manner guaranteed to elicit pity from my stone-faced hub until the light changed and I could no longer see the signage. Nothing. Nada. He drove right by it. Two can play this game I thought to myself–hmm, there’s only one road in and one road out and I’d have another chance on the way home. I’m one clever cookie!

Frank Sinatra lived in PS when it was a celebrity hotspot. We didn’t stop there, either.sinatra house palm springs

tram

Our destination was the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the world’s largest rotating tramcar, a breathtaking journey up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon. It’s a brief ten minute ride starting at the  Valley Station – elevation 2,643 ft.–ending at the Mountain Station – elevation 8,516 ft. [from Wiki] San Jacinto Peak, 10,834 feet (3,302 m), is the highest peak of the San Jacinto Mountains, and of Riverside County, California. It lies within Mount San Jacinto State Park.

Naturalist John Muir wrote of San Jacinto Peak, “The view from San Jacinto is the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth!”[4]

The tram ride up was SCARY. I spent the entire ride clutching the captain’s arm ’til it went all numb ‘cos I thought the cables were gonna break and we were gonna die. When I expressed that thought to him, he told me to be stop hyperventilating, be quiet, and let up a bit on the vise-like death grip. Sometimes he’s NOT all that perfect. By the time I formed an appropriate response, the ride was over, and we were still alive.tram bench

I stopped to use the restroom and snapped a pic of my new Osprey backpack chock full of the essentials. El Capitan is getting a bit annoyed with the incessant picture taking of my Chanels.

There was SNOW!snowhike

On a gigantic flat rock warmed by the sun, we enjoyed a hearty lunch of canned sardines, cheese and crackers, dried mango, fresh fruit, cookies, and trail mix with raw almonds and cashews.our lunch snow hike

Four legs taking a break. Mine are NOT the hairy ones wearing shorts in the snow.two sets of legs

I left behind a message to others…ES in snow

No GUCCI. No WAY.

Here’s a gallery of the rest of the pics. It was a spectacular day! There wasn’t going to be a Gucci moment–that wasn’t going to happen even though I promised that all I wanted to do was LOOK and not actually buy anything (well, unless there was something that I couldn’t live without), but he was steadfast in his resolve to NOT stop–a girl needs to know when to quit and I do so I did. The last couple of pics are from a detour we made to walk a bit on the famous Pacific Crest Trail. Hubs dream is to walk the entire Trail. Probably not with me. What.Ev.

Come Rain or Come Shine

It’s a misty, rainy, foggy Saturday in Southern California. My tugboat man only has about ten days left before he leaves again for a deep ocean assignment. We’re working as an effective team organizing a lot of year-end paperwork. We’ve got some reggae music on while we slice open envelopes, creating piles to save and piles for the recycle bin.  We’re drinking tea with ginger cookies. He’s having a ginseng tea; the last of his stash from Korea. My Yogi Anti-oxident Green Tea bag is memorable and prophetic today:

You must know that you can swim through every tide and change of time.

So true, tea bag, so true. I’m not a very good swimmer, but I can count on my tugboat man to help keep me afloat just as he once told me I was his anchor.

Happy Saturday, y’all!
Sinatra sings, “Come Rain or Come Shine”